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Judge: parents can sue Apple over in-app payments

apple

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 16 Apr 2012 at 17:46

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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User comments

Humm... In the UK case at least, I wonder if the parents would actually have to pay.

The app itself would have been authorized by the parent but the purchases would be made by the child. Technically, any contract made my anyone under 18 cannot be legally enforced.

come to think of it, what OS the state of UK law? For there to be a contract, there must be an offer, acceptance and an exchange of consideration (something of value), in the case of most free trial software, I'm not sure that final requirement is meet...

By josephlck on 17 Apr 2012

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