Candy crushed: EU demands Google & Apple clean-up their apps

stealing_candy_from_a_baby.jpg

In-app purchases: Like stealing candy from a baby.

Silent sentinel, tireless champion, (and BFF!) of consumers everywhere -- the European Commission -- has put its foot down once again. Its notion that an anything-is-OK-as-long-as-I-make-a-buck attitude regarding in-app purchases -- especially those labelled "free" on the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) app stores -- is now especially irksome to our Brussels-based friends.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers start uninstalling apps.

Filling in for our humble blogwatcher Richi Jennings, is a humbler Stephen Glasskeys.

 

Loek Essers looks towards Brussels:

The European Commission took Apple to task Friday for failing to firmly commit to stopping inadvertent in-app purchases, particularly those made by children.

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Following a large number of complaints about in-app purchases in online games, the Commission joined forces with national authorities to get Google and Apple to change their policies.  MORE

 

Steve Dent gets straight to the point:

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Apple [leads the industry] in parental controls [to] ensure a great experience for parents and children on the App Store. The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable. And over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in- app purchases is clearly marked.

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These controls go far beyond the features of others in the industry. [We're] adding great new features with iOS 8, such as Ask to Buy, giving parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store.  MORE  

 

We find Karissa Bell reading a nutrition label:

Games like Candy Crush will soon be losing their "free" label in the Google Play Store.

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Both Apple and Google have encountered legal trouble over their handling of in-app purchases. Apple added in-app purchase warnings to iOS 7, following a $32.5 million settlement with the FTC in which Apple agreed to refund accidental in-app purchases made by children.

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Google was hit with a similar class-action lawsuit earlier this year from parents of children who had made unauthorized purchases.   MORE

 

A horse from Brussels sprouts spouts off:

Following a large number of complaints in EU countries concerning in-app purchases in online games and in particular inadvertent purchases by children, national authorities joined forces with the European Commission to find solutions.

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The coordinated enforcement action in the EU on in-app purchases in online and mobile games has made real progress in delivering tangible results. Industry has made a number of engagements which seek to address consumer concerns. The action will increase consumer confidence in the fast-growing "app" sector.  MORE

 

And Paul Kunert plays ball instead of an app:

[The] EC said today that Google has played ball: the ad giant has implemented numerous changes, we're told.

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Default settings have also been adapted to ensure authorization is requested before each in-app purchase, so those unexpected four-figure payments on the monthly credit card statement don't materialize.  MORE

 

Meanwhile, Brian X. Chen regulates his spending:

American regulators have also been cracking down on in-app payments. In January, the Federal Trade Commission said it had reached a settlement agreement with Apple that required the company to refund at least $32.5 million to customers whose children had made purchases without their consent.  MORE

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