In January, Apple agreed to a $32.5 million deal with the Federal Trade Commission over Apple’s handling of in-app purchases. A recent FOIA request from Politico revealed that barely a week after that decision, Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell tried to throw Google under the bus, writing to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill and pointing out Google’s similar behavior.
In-app purchases have been a hot issue for consumer protection advocates of late. In Apple’s case specifically, when parents authorized the purchase of an app, Apple allowed a 15-minute window before asking the customer for his or her password again. This allowed kids to rack up sometimes-enormous bills without their parents’ knowledge or permission. Although Apple began to make changes to its policy before the FTC action, the trade commission still ruled that Apple had to offer refunds to angry parents, and if those refunds were less than $32.5 million, Apple had to pay the remainder to the FTC.
But Apple was hardly the only offender. For a time, Google allowed a 30-minute window for a phone or tablet user to make purchases before asking for the password again. But the company revised its policies in light of the extra FTC attention and updated the Play Store so that users can now require a password entry every time they make a purchase.
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