Amazon Censured Over Kids’ Apps That Encourage Spending

Amazon COPPA settlementAmazon settled an FTC COPPA case. Federal regulators charged the online retailer with improperly billing parents for purchases made by their children.

Amazon’s marketplace is filled with apps and games aimed at children, but some didn’t have protections to prevent underage in-game purchases for virtual “stars” and “coins.”

The problem has persisted for years, and in 2014, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez touched on the issue. At the time, she explained: “Even Amazon’s own employees recognized the serious problem its process created.” Another related event sparked in May 2016. But it took until April 2017 for Amazon and the FTC to settle on an agreement.

Last Tuesday an Amazon spokesman explained:

“Since the launch of the Appstore in 2011, Amazon has helped parents prevent purchases made without their permission by offering access to parental controls, clear notice of in-app purchasing, real-time notification for every in-app purchase and refund assistance for unauthorized purchases. The court here affirmed our commitment to customers when it ruled no changes to current Appstore practices were required.

“To continue ensuring a great customer experience, we are happy to provide our customers what we have always provided: refunds for purchases they did not approve. We have contacted all eligible customers who have not already received a refund for unauthorized charges to help ensure their refunds are confirmed quickly.”

Amazon set up a Web page where affected parties can request refunds: https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/refund-orders/in-apprefund.

If you have an Amazon account, use the platform’s Message Center to find additional information about refunds.  The FTC recommends that specific questions about this matter be directed to Amazon by phone at 866-216-1072.

The legal tussle between the FTC and Amazon is a reminder to developers and app companies to follow the guidelines enumerated in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. 

Kelly / Warner is a full-service law firm that helps entrepreneurs and businesses with digital and Internet law issues, in addition to FTC online sales and promotions matters.

Article Sources

Elmore, C. (2017, May 31). Amazon earned $70M unlawfully from kids, FTC said. Are you due a refund? Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/amazon-earned-70m-earned-unlawfully-from-kids-ftc-said-are-you-due-a-refund_/528400744

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