Parent sues Apple for in-app buying policy

A Pennsylvania man has sued Apple for not doing enough to prevent children from running up huge in-app purchase bills in iPhone, iPad games.

Shortly after Apple introduced new parental controls for in-app purchases on iPhone or iPad games, the company is being slapped with a lawsuit that says it hasn't done enough.

Earlier this week, Garen Meguerian of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against Apple that says the company's policy for in-app purchases doesn't go far enough to prevent children from buying currency or points inside apps and games. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, requests class-action status and asks for unspecified damages and legal fees.

Meguerian brought the suit after his 9-year-old daughter downloaded the free iOS games Zombie Cafe, Treasure Story, and City Story, and then proceeded to buy virtual currency within the games, which ended up costing Meguerian $200, according to the complaint.

"These games are highly addictive, designed deliberately so, and tend to compel children playing them to purchase large quantities of game currency, amounting to as much as $100 purchase or more," the lawsuit reads.

The complaint notes that Apple requires a password in order to purchase anything from the App Store, and also acknowledges that Apple recently added the requirement via an iOS updatethat a password be entered before making purchases inside any app. The suit finds fault with the fact that the password required for both scenarios is the same.

The Associated Press wrote last December about parents having to pay massive bills generated by their children buying items within games or apps without a clear understanding that they cost real money.

Then the Federal Trade Commission got involved, with Chairman John Leibowitz sending a letter to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) confirming that he would review the way Apple marketed in-app purchases, in particular apps aimed at children.

Apple responded shortly thereafter with new parental controls in the iOS 4.3 update.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

This story was updated on 4/18 to note that the AP first reported on the issue of children spending real money on in-app purchases without parental permission. An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the first report of it to the Washington Post.

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