The Purchasing Policies That Regulate Kids’ In-App Purchases

Last week, the FTC sued Amazon for allowing kids to make unauthorized in-app purchases from their parents’ smartphones. Like other tech giants, Amazon has settings to prevent kids’ accidental charges. When confirming the first in-app purchase, users can select a setting to require a password for future purchases from the Amazon App store. Apple has a similar policy, while Google offers an option to let users enter a password once to make purchases for the next 30 minutes.

amazon2Amazon’s policy gives first-time buyers two options for future in-app purchases: password or no password, explains The Wall Street Journal. If the user chooses password, they are redirected to Amazon’s parental controls where they can prevent kids from making any in-app purchases and limit the amount of time kids can spend in apps.

Apple’s current in-app purchase policy requires that users enter a password to open a 15-minute window in which users can make any in-app purchases. The FTC alleged that customers did not know about the 15 minute window, and as part of the settlement, Apple is paying parents a portion of the $32.5 million set aside for retribution.

Apple is expected to add more parental controls in iOS 8, which will debut this fall. Until then, parents could change the settings in their mobile devices to require a password for every purchase or disable all in-app purchases.

Google’s policy was revised in March following Apple’s settlement with the FTC. The first time users make an in-app purchase, they have to choose the setting for future in-app purchases. The controls include a requirement to enter a password every time a purchase is made, an option to never ask for a password again, or a setting that will allow users to make purchases for 30 minutes after entering a password.