EU puts a stop to aggressive in-app sales

Industry, including Apple, could face legal action

Scottish MEP, Alyn Smith, has welcomed an EU commitment to protect children and their parents from being misled by “free” online games and apps, whilst the European Commission has criticised Apple for inaction.

Alyn Smith MEP said:

“Apps, including games, advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved. Many of those playing the games are children or teenagers, who can make the in-app purchases without parental approval and payment authorisation. It is then up to the parents to foot the bill.

“We’ve seen rising numbers of complaints, in particular from parents, and I’m glad that the EU and national authorities have stepped up to deliver a solution designed to protect consumers across the EU. Now, industry members, including Apple, could face legal action from national authorities if they are deemed to be breaking EU consumer protection law.

“The Commission estimates that over half of the EU online games market is advertised as “free" despite carrying hidden costs: this is clearly unacceptable. While Google has decided on a number of changes, Apple, regrettably, offered no concrete and immediate solutions to address the concerns, particularly related to payment authorisation.

“In-app purchases are a legitimate and successful business model, but it's essential for app-makers to understand and respect EU law. I hope this action will increase consumer confidence in the new technologies sector, which is rapidly growing in Scotland and the EU.”