Amazon refuses FTC settlement over in-app purchases

Company will not comply with the US trade commission's rules

Amazon has refused to agree on a deal with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the way it handles in-app purchases.

In January, the FTC reached a settlement with Apple after the iPhone maker was accused of not doing enough to prevent children from making in-app purchases on its devices without a parent's permission.

Apple agreed to refund a minimum of $32.5 million to parents and change its billing practices to ensure in-app purchases required express consent from players before transactions could be completed.


However, Amazon is refusing to accept a similar agreement with the FTC, stating that it is prepared to fight the commission in court should it try to force it to co-operate.

"We have continuously improved our experience since launch", Amazon associate general counsel Andrew C. DeVore told the FTC in a letter, "but even at launch when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want we refunded those purchases.

"In-app purchasing was and remains a new and rapidly evolving segment, and we have consistently improved the customer experience in response to data.

"That constant iteration on behalf of customers has produced not only an in-app purchasing experience that already meets the requirements of the Apple consent order, but the development of the industry-leading parental controls like Kindle Free Time. We believe the Commission should promote that kind of iteration on behalf of customers."

In April, the Office of Fair Trading in the UK implemented a similar policy to that of the FTC. Any developer releasing an app which does not adhere to its in-app purchasing principles will be in breach of consumer protection law and could risk enforcement action.