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Apple Free Apps: Kids Making Big In-App Purchases

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

Apple is facing another lawsuit, except this time it's coming from a consumer, not a competitor.

The class action suit alleges that Apple is providing free games in order to dupe children into making expensive in-app purchases without their parents' permission.

Should Apple have to stand in for parental vigilance?

For those without children (or Apple products), the AppStore contains a number of free games marketed towards kids. While not wholly necessary to play, the games sell virtual cash and other items that improve playability.

Though virtual, the in-game swag costs real money. It's also apparently very attractive to minors.

Until the FTC opened an investigation into the issue in February, Apple stored AppStore passwords for 15 minutes following an initial purchase in order to make subsequent transactions less burdensome.

Children used this window to make hundreds of dollars worth of in-app purchases without parental permission.

In response, users must now input their password for each individual transaction.

Whether Apple has been deceiving parents and children by providing free apps is up for debate, but in this age of technological advancements, one has to question whether it's the duty of a company to monitor children, or whether it should be up to a parent.

All of these parents should have thoroughly checked out these games, and they could have set parental controls or had a conversation with their children about using the AppStore to download or purchase anything onto their devices.

But they didn't.

By filing this lawsuit, they seem to be saying that it's Apple's job to monitor their children, not their own.

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