Judge: parents can sue Apple over in-app payments

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iPhone maker due in court after judge rules there's a case to answer

A group of parents have won the right to sue Apple over in-app payments made by their children.

The action stems from complaints last year over a security loophole that meant children could buy free games, but still rack up huge bills buying add-ons while playing.

The parents took issue with Apple profiting from the apps sold through its systems, but the iPhone maker argued the case should be dropped because it had since enhanced its log-in processes to prevent add-on purchases without parental permission.

Now a US judge has ruled the parents have a reasonable claim given the damages suffered, and he agreed they had shown enough specific examples in the lawsuit for the case to proceed.

UK victim

The scale of the problem was highlighted by the case of one victim in the UK who ran up a bill of £1,500 before the loophole was closed.

Niamh Bolton explained how she felt ill after discovering her daughter had run up the bill playing Tap Pet Hotel, a game that is free but generates revenue by selling add-ons, which speed progress in the game.

Bolton said the purchases, which were made before Apple added its in-app payment disabling feature, were made within two hours.

"It was more than our monthly mortgage repayment," she told the BBC, adding that the payments were taken within two hours of her daughter downloading the game.

"We didn't have that sort of spare cash in the bank account."

Apple has yet to respond to a request for comment.

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