Phonepayplus, the premium-rate telephone regulator, is to clamp down on mobile phone apps that see users being charged without their knowledge.
The regulator said it has uncovered a number of incidents where this occurred, such as the Better Battery app that accessed a handet's messaging function and subsequently signed users up to chargeable video service without their consent.
"There can be no doubt that apps are revolutionising the way digital content is consumed and paid for in the UK. Apps have the ability to enrich the lives of millions of consumers and are a growing and important part of the UK's digital economy," the regulator said.
"However, just as with any technological development, they can have their downsides. PhonepayPlus is working closely with many industry providers to understand developments in the apps market – both the opportunities and the threats."
The regulator has put together proposals on how to regulate in-app payments and among the measures set out is the need for a password to be entered before virtual goods or services are purchased,
"The problems have mainly been on Android and the other open-source platforms. We have had discussions with Google and they are just as concerned as us about these developments – much of this activity breaches their terms and conditions too," Phonepayplus told The Financial Times.
"Our aim with this proposed Guidance is to intervene early to ensure that those downside risks do not have a detrimental impact on consumers, children or, indeed, the many legitimate providers of innovative new digital services."
The regulator has opened a ten week consultation into the proposals, which will close in December.