Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Ma.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at the marketing practices of applications on Apple's App store and Google's Android Marketplace. Markey's concerns relate to programs geared towards children that may not adequately inform users of potential charges - particularly micro-transactions.
On Tuesday Markey sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz (and copied to Google and Apple), pointing to a story in The Washington Post about how in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo have caught some parents off guard. The Children apparently used parents' passwords to buy in-game items instantly.
"I am concerned about how these applications are being promoted and delivered to consumers, particularly with respect to children, who are unlikely to understand the ramifications of in-app purchases," Markey wrote in the letter.
An example cited in the article is youngster Madison Kay, who bought $99 batches of Smurfberries in the game. By the time she was done playing, the little girl had racked up $1,400 on her mom's credit card.
Of course, parents should utilize the parental controls available for Apple's various devices and should probably not give out their passwords to their young children. For the mom of Madison Kay, a lesson has been learned. Moreover, Rep. Markey's heart is in the right place, but calling in the FTC on this is tantamount to calling in the National Guard for littering.
Source: Washington Post