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The FTC is taking Amazon to court over its in-app purchase policies

Sean Buckley, @seaniccus
July 10, 2014
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Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned Amazon that if it didn't adopt a more Apple-like policy about in-app purchases, it might wind up in court. Now, it has. Today the FTC announced that it's seeking a court order requiring the online retailer to issue refunds to parents whose children ran wild with in-app purchases -- unauthorized charges, the FTC says, that racks up into the millions. Much of the alleged blame is focused on Amazon's past. According to the FTC, Amazon had almost no protection against unwanted in-app purchases in 2011, and has only implemented adequate consent framework recently. The government's concern seems to lie squarely on customers left in the lurch: Amazon's official policy says that all in-app purchases are non-refundable, and the exceptions to that policy are "unclear and confusing."

In early July, Amazon told the FTC that it was disappointed with the government's threat to file suit, claiming that it has always been quick to respond to refund requests for unwanted, child-sourced purchases. "Pursuing litigation against a company whose practices were lawful from the outset and that already meet or exceed the requirements of the Apple consent order makes no sense," Amazon argued, "and is an unfortunate misallocation of the Commission's resources."

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