Apple Tattled on Google to Draw FTC Attention to Similar Kids In-App Purchasing Issue
Earlier this year, Apple entered into an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, promising to provide $32 million in refunds to parents whose children purchased unauthorized in-app items.
As it turns out, while Apple was being targeted by the FTC for letting children make in-app purchases without parental consent, the company was attempting to get Google in trouble for doing the same thing. According to a report from Politico, head Apple lawyer Bruce Sewell sent the FTC a report highlighting the same in-app purchase issues in Google’s own Play store.
“I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it,” Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill, pointing to a report that criticized Google’s app store over the same issue of unauthorized purchases. The previously undisclosed email was obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Apple has long faced issues over in-app purchases, with the company first landing in hot water with the FTC after multiple parental complaints over children over-spending within apps and several high profile stories of children spending thousands of dollars. While most of the focus has been on Apple, Google too has faced the same issues, as children were able to make purchases for up to 30 minutes after a parent entered a password, much as they could in the App Store before Apple implemented specific changes.
Apple was not happy to be singled out by the FTC over in-app purchases, as the company had previously settled a lawsuit levied at it over the issue. Under the terms of the lawsuit, Apple had agreed to provide iTunes credit and cash refunds to parents, but the FTC demanded more.
At the time, Tim Cook said the FTC’s decision to sue over a previously settled case “smacked of double jeopardy,” but agreed to the terms as it didn’t “require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do.”
Apple officially began sending emails to affected iTunes users and issuing refunds in March. Google has thus far not been targeted by the FTC.