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Apple sued by parents over in-app purchases

Parents claim that it is too easy for children to rack up large in-app bills

A group of angry parents, whose children have racked up large bills after buying in-app purchases on iOS devices, are suing Apple for unfairly profiting from in-app payments.

The BBC reports that the group, led by attorney Garen Meguerian, claim that it is too easy for children to spend money on in-app purchases without their parent's knowledge. Many of the expensive extras available as in-app purchases are found in addictive children's games, which often require the purchase of game currency and items in order to progress more quickly, says Meguerian. (More below)

Previously, Apple called for Megeurian's case to be dismissed, as there is an option available on all iOS devices that enables parents to turn off in-app purchases. Apple now also requires the user to enter a password for every in-app purchase. Despite this, US District Judge Edward Davila has given the hearing the go ahead.

Meguerian highlighted several examples of the ease at which children can download extra content in his court filing made in April 2011, demanding a jury trial. He claims that his 9-year-old daughter purchased roughly $200 (£125) worth of in-app purchases without his authorisation.

The court filing reads: "Apple requires its users to authenticate their accounts by entering a password prior to purchasing and/or downloading an App or buying Game Currency. Until recently, however, once the password was entered, Apple permitted the user, even if a minor, to buy Game Currency for up to fifteen minutes without re-entering the password."

It is unclear what the verdict of the case will be, as Apple has already put new measures in place to ensure that parents can have control over what their children are purchasing. But despite this, Meguerian claims that Apple's new in-app purchasing restrictions still aren't good enough, because children over the age of 13 are permitted to set up their own iTunes accounts, and the restrictions don't prevent children who know their parents' iTunes passwords from downloading content. There is, however, a separate PIN code that allows access to parental controls, where parents can disable in-app purchases altogether.


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