FTC sues Amazon over children’s in-app purchases

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Federal regulators announced it has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com for allegedly making it too easy for children to make purchases when using mobile apps without a parent's permission.

The Federal Trade Commission said Amazon charged parents millions of dollars of unauthorized payments for what's known as "in-app purchases," typically make-believe items popularly offered within mobile games such as Candy Crush Saga that enhance a game or allow a user to advance levels.

The FTC said in its suit that it seeks a court order for the company to refund families affected by the unauthorized charges that began in 2011. It also wants the court to permanently ban Amazon from charging parents for in-app purchases without their consent. Amazon, whose chief executive Jeffrey Bezos owns The Washington Post, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FTC alleges that beginning in November 2011, Amazon violated the FTC Act by billing parents for charges incurred by their children without permission. Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet was used by children to play games and spend "unlimited amounts of money" to pay for virtual items within the apps such as “coins,” “stars,” and “acorns” without parental involvement, the agency wrote. The FTC said that at first, no password requirements were put in place to stop children from making the purchases.

FTC sues Amazon over children’s in-app purchases FTC Alleges Amazon Unlawfully Billed Parents for Millions of Dollars in Children’s Unauthorized In-App Charges (Federal Trade Commission) FTC Sues Amazon Over Kids’ In-App Purchases (Revere Digital) FTC sues Amazon over in-app purchases (USAToday) Amazon allegedly lets kids get away with too many in-app purchases, FTC sues (ars technica) FTC sues Amazon over kids’ app purchases in showdown over agency’s power (GigaOm) Regulators sue Amazon over app charges (The Hill) FTC sues Amazon for letting children rack up in-app purchase bills (The Verge) FTC Files Suit Against Amazon Over Kids Apps (B&C)