updated 12:00 pm EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
General counsel forwarded Consumer Reports article to commissioners
Apple's general counsel, Bruce Sewell, tried to get the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate in-app purchase policies at Google Play, an email obtained via the Freedom of Information Act shows. Days after Apple agreed to pay a $32.5 million settlement over its own approach to in-app purchases, Sewell forwarded a Consumer Reports story to FTC commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill. The article accused Google of being equally lax, and letting children spend their parents' money "like a drunken sailor."
"I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it," Sewell commented. The FTC has not launched an investigation of Google Play so far.
A number of parties have complained about both Apple and Google's treatment of in-app purchases, which has been exploited by the developers of some "free-to-play" games aimed at kids. In reality a number of these titles require buying in-game objects or currency -- using real money -- to make much progress, and since in-app purchases can often be made without a new password request, there is little to stop a child from spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In some instances, apps have been accused of deliberately concealing the fact that real money is being spent.