Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Iphone The Courts Apple News

Federal Court Allows Class-Action Suit Against Apple Over In-App Purchases 279

Posted by samzenpus
from the think-of-the-children dept.
suraj.sun writes "An iPhone-owner whose daughter downloaded $200 worth of 'Zombie Toxin' and 'Gems' through in-app purchases on his iPhone has been allowed to pursue a class action suit against Apple for compensation of up to $5m. Garen Meguerian of Pennsylvania launched the class-action case against Apple in April 2011 after he discovered that his nine-year-old daughter had been draining his credit card account through in-app purchases on 'free' games including Zombie Cafe and Treasure Story. This month, Judge Edward J Davila in San Jose District Federal Court has allowed the case to go to trial, rejecting Apple's claim that the case should be dismissed. Meguerian claimed that Apple was unfairly targeting children by allowing games geared at kids to push them to make purchases. He describes games that are free to play but require purchases of virtual goods to progress as 'bait apps' and says they should not be aimed at children."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Federal Court Allows Class-Action Suit Against Apple Over In-App Purchases

Comments Filter:
  • I thought that to confirm any in-app purchase, you had to re-enter your password for your Apple ID.

    Is this not the case with some apps?

    • by Elgonn (921934) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:56PM (#39728565)
      You do have to enter a password but it does cache it for a short time. So in theory a parent making a purchase and handing an iOS device to a child could enable the child to make purchases at will for a short time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You do have to enter a password but it does cache it for a short time. So in theory a parent making a purchase and handing an iOS device to a child could enable the child to make purchases at will for a short time.

        And if $200 is draining your credit card, maybe its time to rethink having an iPhone.

      • by am 2k (217885) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:00PM (#39728605) Homepage

        In practice, the child most likely had the password. Note that you can also disable in-app purchases in the settings (and protect that setting with a different password).

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by pla (258480)
          In practice, the child most likely had the password.

          This.

          Look, I normally count as the last one to defend Apple for anything, but seriously?

          Guy gives his daughter a way to rack up bills, she does so, he pleads ignorance. Gimme a frickin' break! "Parenting" means more than buying an expensive pacifier.

          Pay the damned bill, spank the little brat raw, and both of you take a lesson from this.
          • by s.petry (762400) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @07:26PM (#39729521)

            While not entirely without merit, the problem is not so easily dismissed.

            Remember back 20 years ago when a company could not say things that were deceptive and/or false without getting in to trouble? Well, welcome to the real world of today where it's normal to take advantage of people.

            What really happens on the games is that there is no message of anything except for the game asking for a password. Unless you read page 9374 of the TOS and EULA for the game at download time, you would not know that someone was about to sock your account for anything. The game does not have to tell you that it is going to charge your account. It simply asks for a password.

            Companies can tell you that you won something, and when you fill out the form to get the prize they switch your service and charge you money. They could also give you nothing, sell your information to a marketing company for 10c and make sure your text messages eat up your data plan.

            Unfortunately, it's a very dirty world we are in. There is a lot of blame to go around.

            Should the kid be taught a lesson regarding finance and the dangers of scams and scammers? Sure

            but spanked because they got screwed over by an adult that prays on people for a living? Hardly.

            • by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @09:48PM (#39730533) Homepage

              screwed over by an adult that prays

              Come on, Catholic priests have nothing to do with this particular instance of abuse.

            • by Kalriath (849904)

              What really happens on the games is that there is no message of anything except for the game asking for a password. Unless you read page 9374 of the TOS and EULA for the game at download time, you would not know that someone was about to sock your account for anything. The game does not have to tell you that it is going to charge your account. It simply asks for a password.

              Uh, yes - they do.

            • by chrismcb (983081) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @11:29PM (#39731005) Homepage

              What really happens on the games is that there is no message of anything except for the game asking for a password.

              Do you have any proof of this
              I don't know how this particular game works (although one of TFA implies it works the way most do) but most games tell you that you are about to spend real money, and they tell you how much you are going to spend.
              I'm not sure that Apple is at fault here, and I think the parents need to be careful when giving the password to children. But you can't expect a child to know that when they click on "Bushel of Berries $99.99" to know they are actually spending $99.99 in hard money, and not game money. Especially since a lot of these games have game money you already spend.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by macs4all (973270)

              The game does not have to tell you that it is going to charge your account. It simply asks for a password.

              1. I have never seen an iOS in-app purchase confirm dialog that wasn't quite explicit about charges.

              2. Perhaps this is a chance for the child to learn that you don't just enter your password without thinking.

              3. Perhaps this is a chance for the parent to learn a little about iOS security; which, if the parent had bothered to become familiar with their device, has completely adequate security measures [apple.com] to avoid this sort of thing, including, but certainly not limited to, restricting in-app purchases, and e

          • by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:07PM (#39730657) Homepage

            Have you no concept of adults, actual grown skilled professionals scamming children for their pocket, a beating is required but you are utterly wrong about the target.

            This is no excuse adults setting out purposely to scam children. Reality here due to the cost of purchases credit card details should be required to be entered every time with emphasis on the amount of money being spent. Not euphemisms, buy bullshit berries with pretend credits (only those pretend credits are really pretend they are direct deductions from your parents credit card and in turn the loss of all your pocket money).

            This is sick stuff, professional stealing children's lollipops in real life. It is mind boggling, can you imagine the meetings were psychologists, accounts, coders get togethor to create games to scam the pocket money from ten year olds. Each plotting more enticing, psychological manipulations to get the kids to press the pocket money wiping out button. "Yeah add that, that'll suck in the little rats","Oh Yeah, that'll get the little beggars competing","We need that to feed the little suckers egos so they spend big","We all gonna get rich scamming dumb kids pocket money, what a bunch of suckers, yuck, yuck ".

            Seriously wake the fuck up to yourself, "ADULTS SCAMMING CHILDREN'S POCKET MONEY", what the fuck is the matter with you.

        • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @08:15PM (#39729983) Journal
          But that don't change the fact they shouldn't have been pushing these apps for kids. Do they think little Suzy has her own CC? If adults want to buy invisible property in some game? More power to 'em I say, I have a boy that pays $15 a month to be a fricking Bounty Hunter in that new Star Wars MMO. But these things are aimed at little kids and that just isn't right. if you want to sell them a game? Fine and dandy but the whole "bait apps" description sounds pretty right on to me. And if Apple wants to push iOS to the masses then maybe they should be a little more careful at what's aimed at kids huh?
          • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @11:06PM (#39730917)
            Search "highest grossing apps" and look for all the "free" apps in the highest grossing category. It's insane. Why would so many people buy free pay-to-play games? I've accidentally loaded some up, and always immediately delete them when I realize what they are. There should be an easy way in settings to ban all in-ap purchases (not a new password, but just flat ban them), or to identify the in-ap enabled games on the ap browser so you'll never accidentally get one because you didn' read all the reviews and release notes (though they seem to be getting better about explicitly identifying them in the description, you could still end up buying based solely on the picture, so it should have "In App Purchase" across the image of the game or something.
            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              If an adult wants to buy something in game? more power to 'em, its just the whole "aiming at kids" thing that bothers me. With little kids they don't have a clue about how much something really costs, all they know is they keep losing and this item gives them more (insert power, gold, magic, etc) so its easy to get a little kid to click on something like that. That's why we call them kids and not midgets.

              But as long as its aimed at adults and doesn't screw the game (like you I stay away from these "free to

      • by Tharsman (1364603) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:02PM (#39728643)

        iOS does give the parent the ability to set up the phone/ipad/ipod to require password every single transaction without wait window. It also provides a way for you to entirely disable the ability to consume In-App Purchases, so you can rest assured the kid is not asking you for the password for anything but the initial app.

        • by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @10:29PM (#39730735) Homepage Journal
          It does so... now. It didn't in the past, which is presumably when this occurred.
          • by macs4all (973270) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:34AM (#39734439)

            It does so... now. It didn't in the past, which is presumably when this occurred.

            How far back? iOS has had Parental Restrictions on In-App Purchases nearly from the beginning.

            iOS 3.0 introduced In-App Purchases [apple.com]. These still required a Password, but there might have been no other "Restriction".

            iOS 3.1 introduced In-App Purchase Restrictions [apple.com]. (See pg. 146 of the user manual PDF).

            Apple released iOS 3.0 on June 17, 2009 [wikipedia.org]. iOS 3.1 (with had the in-app purchase restrictions) debuted on September 9, 2009 [wikipedia.org]. So, we're talking about THREE MONTHS, TOPS that Parents ONLY had the ability to hide their iOS Password from their kids. Hell, Apple even allows a less-draconian option called "iTunes Allowance" [apple.com], which allows you, THE PARENT, to teach fiscal responsibility by allowing LIMITED iTunes purchases (there are also "content" restrictions to control this further).

            Honestly, I really don't see how Apple could have been more responsible. They identified that perhaps some additional controls would be a good thing (over and above a Parent simply NOT GIVING THEIR PASSWORD OUT), and had a solution in PARENT'S hands in under three months. I think that is pretty damned good!

        • by dudpixel (1429789)

          How many iphone users even know what an in-app purchase is?

          There are probably many parents out there who bought their kids an iphone and have no idea what is possible with it.

          I know one such parent who bought their daughter an ipod touch, only to find that in order to use the app store you need to enter your credit card details. She was shocked, but that's the rules.

          I can see how this could happen - I wonder if Apple could do a bit more to inform users of things like this? They may already do this - I'm not

      • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:33PM (#39728979)

        Every time this topic comes up I wonder if telephone companies have ever been sued like this over kids racking up huge bills via long-distance and toll numbers.

    • I thought that to confirm any in-app purchase, you had to re-enter your password for your Apple ID.

      This is true, but the guy's password was "12345".

      In other news Garen Meguerian is also suing Mel Brooks and MGM for making Spaceballs.

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:07PM (#39728693)

      Prior to the iOS 4.3 update in March 2011, there was a 15-minute grace period after you entered your password where you didn't have to enter it again. Following some complaints that were similar to this plaintiff's, Apple changed it so that there was an option to make passwords mandatory every time, rather than having a grace period. And if you did choose to keep the grace period enabled, they made it so that your first in-app purchase in that grace period would require you to re-enter the password.

      Effectively, this closed the "hole" that the plaintiff's daughter used (well, to be fair, Apple can't fix bad parenting), wherein the parent downloaded an app, entered their password, and the child managed to ring up $200 worth of in-app purchases in 15 minutes or less. The plaintiff here filed suit in April 2011, shortly after the issue came to light in the press and after it had already been fixed by Apple.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "The plaintiff here filed suit in April 2011, shortly after the issue came to light in the press and after it had already been fixed by Apple."

        If that is the case, then this is nothing more than extortion by the plaintiff. If Apple addressed the issue quickly and effectively then there is no "lawsuit" needed nor warranted, especially if it is class action.

        Additionally, the "father" is not worthy of that title. If he couldn't trust his daughter to not buy "in-app" upgrades, she shouldn't have a friggin iPhon

        • You will definitely not hear any disagreement from me on that. I'm firmly in the camp that believes that you can't enforce good parenting, and that there's no substitute for it. In my mind, Apple's pre-iOS 4.3 policy was fine as it was. The only parents apparently suffering from it are the types who are content to let the TV teach their children.

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          "The plaintiff here filed suit in April 2011, shortly after the issue came to light in the press and after it had already been fixed by Apple."

          If that is the case, then this is nothing more than extortion by the plaintiff. If Apple addressed the issue quickly and effectively then there is no "lawsuit" needed nor warranted, especially if it is class action.

          If I read right before, the guy even had Apple revert all charges. This guy is suing just in "principle" not actual damaged to himself (other than potential distress and window of bad credit.)

        • If he couldn't trust his daughter to not buy "in-app" upgrades, she shouldn't have a friggin iPhone to start with.

          In his defense, he bought his daughter what, I assume, looked like a fun and free game for a child. It said "Free" on Apple's App Store, after all. I assume he didn't check beforehand to see how the game worked (ie, it required purchasing trinkets).

          I can understand where the guy is coming from and I think it behooves Apple to note games that use In-App purchases right there next to the price. Maybe even give an "average purchase price" of how much people who've bought the game have spent on In-App purcha

          • by Altus (1034)

            So these days the world is full of these fremium apps and yet somehow that is apple's fault and not the fault of the people making the apps?

            Why not sue the developer, you know, the one that made the app, created a (presumably) deceptive money making scheme and made all of the actual money from these purchases.

            • by DRJlaw (946416)

              Why not sue the developer, you know, the one that made the app, created a (presumably) deceptive money making scheme and made all of the actual money from these purchases.

              Apple reviews the apps, takes a 30% cut from the purchases, and took until IOS 4.3 to add an option not to cache a password for 15 minutes. Apple also chose to enable in-app purchases (with the cached password) by defaut. Why not sue both?

            • Well, the first reason, of course, is you sue the people with money. Apple has lots of it.

              The second reason is that Apple profited from it. Remember that, as the agent, Apple collects 30% of In-App purchase money. So, of that $200, Apple made $60. An analogy: I steal your iPhone and sell it to a pawnbroker for $50. The Pawnbroker has a good reason to believe that this is stolen merchandise, but does nothing to investigate it and just turns around and sells it to someone for $75. The pawnbroker is now

          • by bug_hunter (32923)

            I think it behooves Apple to note games that use In-App purchases right there next to the price. Maybe even give an "average purchase price" of how much people who've bought the game have spent on In-App purchases.

            As an App developer I would love this!
            I made an app once that was primarily a platform for subscription data, it gave away a few demo bits of data for free but not much. The idea was then the user purchases the data relevant to them.
            There were many angry reviews saying "rip off - it says free but then you have to buy stuff". In my app description I made it very clear it was in-app purchase driven (even showing screenshots of the purchase screen) but at the end of the day it just said "Free" when you clicked

            • Why didn't you just charge $2 for the app and include one free in-app purchase of your choice?
          • The app store clearly marks which apps have in-app purchases right next to place where it specifies the price. You can even look at all available in-app purchases there, including their price. There is no excuse to claim that you were unaware that a free app has in-app purchases when the app store shows them clearly.

        • Additionally, the "father" is not worthy of that title. If he couldn't trust his daughter to not buy "in-app" upgrades, she shouldn't have a friggin iPhone to start with. If it was an accident, then the guy should have made the daughter work off the debt and learn the valuable lesson that nothing is free in life. But rather than deal with the daughter's selfish behavior, he is trying to reward her with a "get rich quick" scheme.

          As much as I despise bad parenting, and think that it is one of the worst problems we have in the "modern world", there is something that might be in case here. How clear it is that you are buying something on the app? I do not own an iPhone (Have a Driod 2), so I can't tell for sure. But, going through what I found on the web on adult games, some developers go out of their way to mascarade that you are buying stuff. IF, and that is a big IF, that is the case with this games, she might have something to pur

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            It says "smurf" it says "free", so you download it, and had it to your child to play. It's been blessed by Apple for the walled garden safe, and is "free" so there shouldn't be an issue. But then you come to find out that the free app cost you $2000. And at the time this became an issue, there was no way to stop that behavior, short of a cooldown period of 15 minutes of no-phone for the kids after every purchase.
        • by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @07:51PM (#39729737)

          "The plaintiff here filed suit in April 2011, shortly after the issue came to light in the press and after it had already been fixed by Apple."

          If that is the case, then this is nothing more than extortion by the plaintiff. If Apple addressed the issue quickly and effectively then there is no "lawsuit" needed nor warranted, especially if it is class action.

          You do realize that you have at least 1-2 years in which to file a suit after you've been injured, so that filing a class action after you discover that you and a bunch of other people were injured is not extortion, but rational and appropriate. Its also far easier to justify a hiring a lawyer to pursue a case where a large number of people have been harmed then to either hire a lawyer to pursue a case worth only $200, or learn how to navigate small claims court on your own.

          Also, define "quickly" and "effectively" -- these sorts of games pretty much existed in the app store from the get-go, and IOS 4.3 was released in March 2011. The iPad was released in April 2010, which ignores all the phones that came before it. Shall we google for the first complaints from iPhone users, or is 11 months sufficiently beyond "quickly" for you?

          Additionally, the "father" is not worthy of that title. If he couldn't trust his daughter to not buy "in-app" upgrades, she shouldn't have a friggin iPhone to start with.

          Screw you. I've bought an iPad for a four year old. Four year olds barely understand the concept of "money," much less what an in app purchase is. Fortunately it was an iPad 2, I'd read about the issue, and I configured the thing to always require a password (as well as to disable in app purchases, although frankly that just makes the times that you want to make them far more painful -- 1 password vs. exit, settings, restrictions, pin, switch, double-home, app, password).

          You want to reward Apple (gatekeeper/reviewer of all, for a healthy 30%) and software developers like Zynga by freeing them from any responsibility to learn their own lesson and modify their own "get rich quick schemes." The parent and child deserve at least some blame, but the experts (i.e., Apple and developers) were being predatory and quite blameworthy. Is Apple's defense at trial going to be "we couldn't possibly foresee this issue since none of us have children"? Apple is all about the user experience, but does anyone other than an idiot, an addict, or a child buy a $99 consumable immediately after buying a "free" game? I'd love to see a demographic study of what goes on here.

          It's irrelevant how much of a technical genius and/or disciplinarian you may be -- the law protects consumers who are average citizens from unconscionable acts, such as where a seller takes advantage of consumers "lack of knowledge, ability, experience, or capacity to a grossly unfair degree." (Use your mad skills to Google the phrase)

          First time iPhone/iPad buyers are not going to have the knowledge or experience to know that their purchase password not only is cached to allow other app store purchases, but cached to allow in app purchases as well. First time iPhone/iPad buyers are not going to that there is an option to turn in-app purchases off. You buy an app for your kid, you hand the iPad to the kid to play the app once it's installed. Not 15 minutes later. You buy a free app, you don't expect progress in the app to essentially require you to buy "a basket of coins" for $99.

          If people were such geniuses, then the default configuration would be require passwords to be entered immediately, and possibly to delve into the settings to enable in-app purchases. That's the more secure and fail safe configuration, after all. Why is that not the default? Because your average person is not a genius, does not have time to read a user manual, and learns by use and experiance. If they become annoyed, they might look for setting to chang

        • by dudpixel (1429789)

          You wanna know something?

          Being a parent is damn hard. Being a good parent is nigh on impossible (depends who is rating you - if its your kids, good luck).

          This guy made a mistake and you're jumping on him. You dont know what he did in disciplining his daughter. But should he not try to get his money back if he felt it was the right thing to do (not saying it was)?

          How many parents know that the iphone they bought for their child allows such a thing as in-app purchases? and that in many cases the child knows m

          • by fadir (522518)

            There is a difference between "getting money back" and starting a class action suit for 5m.

            Giving your little daughter an iPhone with the password to the corresponding account is wrong on so many levels that there shouldn't even be a question wether this is bad parenting or not. I do not give my 3 years old son a sharp kitchen knife either. That's just common sense ... which apparently isn't so common as it seems.

            If he wants his money back he could simply file for a charge back and that's it. He wants to ma

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        the child managed to ring up $200 worth of in-app purchases in 15 minutes or less.

        With some of those games offering tokens/credits/whatever for $100 at a time, it's not hard to imagine.

    • by Wild_dog! (98536)

      Bingo.... my kids have yet to make their own purchase since they don't know the password. I do all of the app purchases after they have gone to bed.
      Sounds like the kids got hold of dad's password somehow, but apple can't be responsible for the kids using dad's password if he can't keep it from them.
      Plus $5m damages for 200 bucks seems a bit over the top.

  • iCoupons (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    That's what most people will get - coupons for future app purchases. The lawyers, of course will get plenty of cash.
  • by Tharsman (1364603) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:59PM (#39728595)

    Apple is not the one "selling" the apps and then charging with IAP, the software developers are.

    It also happens in Facebook, and desktop, heck.... Valve has been doing it for a while with Team Fortress 2.

    So why go after Apple?

    Don't take me wrong, I really hope this case goes somewhere. I hate the Free2Play model where they take advantage of ignorant kids or people with compulsive behaviors. I just feel this lawsuit is miss-directed, Zynga and it's peers are the ones that should be targeted.

    I will not oppose, though, if Apple decides or is forced to remove "consumable" IAP from the app store, or force apps that require them to charge an up-front fee that removes the visibility advantage these pocket predators have by being free up-front.

    • So why go after Apple?

      Because Apple did it and it is wrong.

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        How did they do it wrong? By default they ask for a password. They also give the parent tools to entirely turn IAP off, or require password on every transaction.

        How did Apple did it wrong (that Facebook or Valve did not?)

        • How did Apple did it wrong (that Facebook or Valve did not?)

          Oh, I don't know, maybe it's something like putting pictures of teddy bears on packages of cigarettes? Maybe Facebook and Valve are in the wrong as well, I don't know. That in no way would absolve Apple.

        • by geekmux (1040042)

          How did they do it wrong? By default they ask for a password. They also give the parent tools to entirely turn IAP off, or require password on every transaction.

          How did Apple did it wrong (that Facebook or Valve did not?)

          I could be wrong here, but my understanding is that the device in question was still running iOS 4.3, which does NOT give you the option of requiring a password with every transaction. They corrected that with later releases.

          As far as FB or Valve, give it time...that's what a little thing called "legal precedent" is for. It's doubtful they really did anything all that different, but will likely be reliant upon the outcome of this case.

        • by Algae_94 (2017070)
          Dude, he didn't say Apple did it wrong. He said Apple did it <pause> and it is wrong. It was a flippant reply to "why go after Apple", so don't expect a serious response.
      • by Tough Love (215404) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:08PM (#39728697)

        And what Apple is accused of doing is "allowing games geared at kids to push them to make purchases." Apple is no common carrier, Apple exercises control over every app sold through its store. And is therefore responsible for the app, including any immoral, unethical or downright illegal inducement of children to enter into financial transactions.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by j00r0m4nc3r (959816)
          Good theory, except none of those things apply here.
        • by liquidsin (398151)

          mommy or daddy set this device up with a credit card and allowed their child to access it. commercials for cereal and toys that run during cartoons "induce" children to enter into financial transactions as well. apple merely provided the television set, it was still on the parents not to set their kid loose in the mall with the check book.

    • by KPU (118762) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:04PM (#39728667) Homepage

      So why go after Apple?

      If there's a problem with a walled garden, blame the gardener. Otherwise, don't put a wall up in the first place.

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        The problem is not in the garden, it's in the flower seeds that are also sold down the street :P

        Again, I actually hope this case does bring some changes and don't mind if Apple is hurt in the process (they are big boys, they can take it) but fear this may fall through due to them targeting the wrong party. But right now, Valve, Google and Facebook are equally guilty because all allow free apps/games with IAP.

      • by agm (467017)

        If you don't like what happens inside a walled garden, don't enter it in the first place. Last time I looked no one is forcing you to.

        How can a responsible parent not be aware of what their children does on an internet connected device?

        • by MrShaggy (683273)

          Do your parents moniter your internet usage?

          Because responisible don't look over the kids shoulder 24/7. They allow the kids to be trusted with something.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Bigby (659157)

            You trust them with something because you teach them responsibility.

            Should I be able to sue a car company if my child crashes my car? Should I be able to sue Bieber because he entices my child to buy his albums? This is purely a case about personal responsibility and it is the parent's responsibility to endow responsibility in their children, and the must deal with the consequences together.

            • by Fjandr (66656)

              Should I be able to sue Bieber because he entices my child to buy his albums?

              Ideally, no, but it's preferable to the world we live in now where it's illegal to use deadly force against such forcible aural assault.</joke>

    • by mug funky (910186)

      Apple can't have it both ways.

      if they had a free model of the app store, they would not be responsible.

      by censoring and signing off on _every_ app on that store, they are effectively taking responsibility for it. especially with in-app purchasing, which they watch very closely to make sure they get their cut everywhere they can.

  • Apple moving from underage workers [tuaw.com] to underage customers.

  • by agm (467017) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:12PM (#39728743)

    He describes games that are free to play but require purchases of virtual goods to progress as 'bait apps' and says they should not be aimed at children."

    I agree completely. However, I think it's a parent's responsibility to ensure apps their children use are suitable. If this parent did not do this then that's their fault. I am very conscious of what apps my children use and I vet them all.

    Apple is not responsible for what your children do - you are.

    • by MarkGriz (520778)

      Well, in this case, it appears the parent is *irresponsible*

    • I am very conscious of what apps my children use and I vet them all.

      So, let me get this straight. If your daughter wanted to play some game, you would buy it, download it, and play it a few dozen times before letting her even come near it? Or would you probably just check out the description and screen shots in the App Store and figure, "Yeah, looks okay."

      The point is that the description didn't say anything about In-App purchases. The price of the game was marked as "Free." It's a reasonable assumption that he's not going to have pay anything more for the game.

      Don't ge

      • by agm (467017)

        I am very conscious of what apps my children use and I vet them all.

        So, let me get this straight. If your daughter wanted to play some game, you would buy it, download it, and play it a few dozen times before letting her even come near it?

        If I have no prior knowledge of the game, yes (though maybe not a few dozen times).

        Or would you probably just check out the description and screen shots in the App Store and figure, "Yeah, looks okay."

        The point is that the description didn't say anything about In-App purchases.

        If an app has-in app purchases this is mentioned in the app store along with the app description.

        The price of the game was marked as "Free." It's a reasonable assumption that he's not going to have pay anything more for the game.

        I don't think that's a reasonable assumption. A lot of apps have no cover charge and yet you can buy things inside the app.

        Don't get me wrong--the whole "Class Action Lawsuit" thing is pure BS. And I believe Apple has made changes to solve this "problem." I believe Apple may have reimbursed him for his charges. So why bother with the lawsuit other than to get money?

        • If an app has-in app purchases this is mentioned in the app store along with the app description.

          Not at the time--that's what the whole thing is about--there was no way for the parent to know this.

          I don't think that's a reasonable assumption. A lot of apps have no cover charge and yet you can buy things inside the app.

          Well, again, at the time this wasn't mentioned. But I would also argue that if you're not much of a game player, you wouldn't know this.

      • by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @08:48PM (#39730239) Homepage

        Don't get me wrong--the whole "Class Action Lawsuit" thing is pure BS. And I believe Apple has made changes to solve this "problem." I believe Apple may have reimbursed him for his charges. So why bother with the lawsuit other than to get money?

        The class action is for parents who suffered losses before Apple made the changes. But as a parent, I would argue that Apple has not sufficiently solved the problem. In-app purchases do not belong in games targeted at young children. These apps should not be allowed on the App Store. Perhaps he is going forward with the lawsuit despite being reimbursed personally because Apple are still allowing young children to be targetted in this way, and the default setup of an iDevice still allows unlimited purchases to be made for 15 minutes after a parent enters their iTunes password without warning them of this.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Yes and no. You're responsible if you're negligent, but that can be difficult to prove, and the parent may have had a reasonable expectation that the in-app purchase would be protected by his password. That said, I think he's covering for the fact that he gave his kid the password.

      But more to the point, children aren't legally responsible for credit card use (or pretty much anything) anyway. The only thing the parent had to do is call the credit card company and dispute the charge(s), or worst case put i

  • Three Hands (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bogie (31020)

    On the one hand I think parents should police what their kids are doing. But is it required for them to play every game themselves and make sure it isn't one can easily charge you money? Answer that for yourself but don't be too knee-jerk about how nobody wants to take responsibility for themselves anymore.

    On the other hand I hate these "bait"/"Freeium" apps that have taken over. They are a blight on the gaming world imho. Some people like getting something for free. I'd rather pay a little and know thats t

    • On the other other hand, I'd rather pay nothing to play a terrible game, than $10.
    • Re:Three Hands (Score:4, Interesting)

      by digitallife (805599) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @07:17PM (#39729421)

      There's a very simple reason developers are tending towards 'freemium' games: it makes more money (at least on ios). Let's be honest, as much as a developer may love making an app, if they are to invest the time and resources required to make it good, they need to get paid. So their options are ad supported, which often doesn't pay very well, a non-free app, which often won't get many downloads (unless you're a marketing guru), or IAP. IAP have the benefit of allowing a free app which gets lots of downloads, the possibility of ad generated revenue that can be disabled for a fee if the user wants, and the option for the USER to determine how much they want to give. It's (theoretically) win/win for developer and customer.

      However, the kids apps are absolutely horrible. The apps themselves are usually quick hack jobs with some manipulative child psychology tricks in them. Adults often hate them and can't stand them, but the kids love them and beg and cry to get them. Then they dress up IAP in pretty buttons and what not so every thing the kid clicks on brings up a purchase window and the kid bugs the heck out of the parents to fix it... One slip on the parents part and they accidentally make a purchase.

      Honestly, they need to go after the lecherous developers that make that trash, rather than ask apple to censor (yet more) apps from the app store.

    • some games used to hide the real money part or make it seem like in game cash. Now they have to use the IOS / system screens to use real money.

      Now a game can make it seem like you are buying with in game funds. Now think what in back in the day with simcity 2000 the loans ended costing real money and they did ticks to hide that.

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:45PM (#39729097)
    This was an obvious case of targeting children. It reminds me of an old case with Soupy Sales asking kids to send him green pieces of paper from their parent's wallets. It was meant as a joke but he got in a lot of trouble. Snopes has a great quote on this subject. I can't copy the paragraph but it starts out "It's easy for those .........."Captain Midnight". The paragraph does an excellent job of stating how corporations have always preyed on children. http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/soupy1.asp [snopes.com]
  • Showing my age.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cazekiel (1417893) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:48PM (#39729129)

    I think the biggest problem isn't the idea that apps created to get money through upgrades exist, but the fact that a nine-year old is given the powers of an expensive phone without the parents having a clue as to what she's doing on it is eyebrow-raising. Am I the only one bugged out when I see middle-schoolers having phones and other gadgets that are worth more than my car? Criminy, my mom wouldn't let me have a phone in my room on the main home line, never mind my OWN phone number.

    And as if she didn't know she was doing wrong. Even if a child is immature in the areas of reasoning, I'm assuming any parent here would punish their kid if they found them digging into their wallet to steal cash. How is this any different? You put a LOCK on that shit, wherein any purchases made on your child's phone has to be approved by an adult first. I'm sure there's a method/service that does that. I almost never take the side of corporations like Apple, but in this case, I say the kid is grounded for six months, and double the chores in the house without an allowance. They had their fun, underhandedly. Time for parents to take responsibility for the stuff they buy their kids, especially if they don't intrinsically NEED it to begin with.

    • Am I the only one bugged out when I see middle-schoolers having phones and other gadgets that are worth more than my car? Criminy, my mom wouldn't let me have a phone in my room on the main home line, never mind my OWN phone number.

      Doesn't really bother me for a few reasons.

      First, being able to communicate with your children when they're out and about is convenient. Especially with the disappearance of the pay-phone. I remember that I'd give Mom a call using the pay-phone when the movie was over and she'd come and get me. That can be tough to do now-a-days. Not to mention the whole germophobe thing--"Use a public phone?! How do you know that the person who last used it didn't have the plague?!?"

      Second, these "fancy" smart phones

  • or some system where free stuff should need all kinds of pop ups that paid ones do.

    The old SA cable box software had stuff like that where the free VOD made you view a buy screen with price of $0.

    The directv software does not have screen like that on the free VOD and only the pay stuff has the do you want to buy pop up.

  • by davevr (29843) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @08:34PM (#39730131) Homepage

    If Apple (or Disneyland, or anyone else) wants to have a walled garden where you have to play by their rules to get in there, then they have to be liable for what people find there. If you slip on the wet sidewalk at Disneyland that will be totally different than if you do that outside the park. By requiring developers to pass a stringent test and have each app approved, they are explicitly saying they approve of these sorts of apps. In fact, they are even approving that these apps can go in the children's section.

    That is why Apple is vulnerable here but Android is not. Android doesn't force developers to do anything special. There is no endorsement, so no liability.

    In terms of the settings thing, that is all well and good. But the fact is that Apple is making huge profits from parents who are buying iPods and iPads specifically because Apple has presented their walled garden as a safe place. Remember the famous quote from Steve Jobs to the blogger, saying that Apple is free from crap and if you want porn or viruses, you should go to Android? Well, the chickens have come home.

    Any normal standard would find the business practice of these apps unethical anyway. Have you ever "played" one? This is not "my kid purchased a new champion in League of Legend by accident". These apps are specifically designed to be deceptive and manipulative for children.

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"

Working...