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FTC Sues Amazon for Unlawfully Billing Children from In-App Store

07.11.14

Amazon allegedly “billed parents and other Amazon account holders for children’s activities in apps that are likely to be used by children without having obtained the account holders’ express informed consent.” On July 10, 2014 the FTC sued Amazon in the US District Court in the Western Washington which included these allegations for the Amazon App Store for the Kindle and Droid:

Amazon offers thousands of apps through its mobile app store, including games that children are likely to play. In many instances, after installation, children can obtain virtual items within a game, many of which cost real money.

Amazon bills charges for items that cost money within the app—“in-app charges”—to the parent. Amazon began billing for in-app charges in November 2011, well after media reports about children incurring unauthorized charges in similar apps from other mobile app stores.

Amazon nonetheless often has failed to obtain parents’ or other account holders’ informed consent to in-app charges incurred by children.

The case may have a larger impact to other app stores and products.

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