FTC Goes After Amazon For Kids' In App Purchases As Apple Begs FTC To Go After Google As Well
from the all's-fair-in-ftc-wars-apparently dept
This might not be that crazy. While there may be something to the fact that these companies should be more careful about keeping kids from buying lots of digital crap on their parents' bills, when you take a step back, it does look like the FTC is deciding it can regulate the user interface decisions of internet companies, and that has some potentially troubling implications -- especially with Amazon where its "one click" purchasing has become a part of its brand. That's not to say the company shouldn't reconsider how the shopping works on its mobile apps, but it's not clear that the FTC really should be stepping in here.
Of course, in the meantime, Apple has decided that while it's not happy about the FTC forcing it to settle, if it's going to go through that treatment, Google ought to as well. A Politico FOIA request turned up an email from Apple's general counsel, Bruce Sewell, to two FTC commissioners, basically saying "hey, Google is doing the same thing we're doing..." by pointing to a Consumer Reports article that highlighted that Google's in-app purchases allow your "kid to spend like a drunken sailor" for a period of 30 minutes (longer than the 15 minutes that got Apple in trouble). It was a rather obvious effort to create FTC problems for competitors, though it's understandable that a company on the firing line is tempted to point out others doing the same thing.
This does seem like an area where the companies should be improving, based on consumer complaints alone (and there are many...), but it does raise questions about whether or not the FTC's mandate really should go so far as to basic UI choices for certain companies.