A group of parents have won a small victory in their campaign to sue Apple over purchases rung up by their children via in-app purchases.
The parents contend that Apple lured children into making in-app purchases by hiding them in free-to-downloads games.
US District Judge Edward Davila indicated that their suit has merit and that they may continue the legal process, despite Apple’s argument that the case should be dismissed.
Apple’s argument is not without some merit: in-app purchases can be disabled on a device-by-device basis, but the charges that the case revolves around were rung up before the implementation of this feature.
In addition to the ability to disable in-app purchases, Apple has also added extra safeguards in the iOS software to require passwords to download updates and in-app puchases.
The cost of negligence
As an example of the sort of activity that could happen (although not part of the US suit) one UK mother told the BBC that her 10-year-old daughter spent £1,500 on Tap Pet Hotel’s in-app content.
Although she was finally able to convince Apple refund the money (which her daughter spent in a period of two hours) she did not appreciate how convoluted the refund process was.
Tap Pet Hotel, developed by Pocket Gems, is named in the lawsuit along with the rest of Pocket Gems' Tap series (Tappily Ever After, Tap Safari, etc.)
In an age when parents frequently use iPhones and iPads to placate unruly children, this lawsuit (regardless of its outcome) will serve as a cautionary reminder to parents that they must supervise young children when they are gaming.