Judge spanks Apple over kid-baiting apps

Last year, Apple tried to have a court case thrown out from a group of angry parents whose children were racking up large iTunes bills from in-app purchases. Now, a District judge in California is saying no to Apple’s request and letting the case stand in court, reports Paid Content.

The problem started with children downloading free apps and games, then using their parent’s iTunes accounts to purchase credits in the form of coins, prizes, or other cartoony currency. The apps were considered “bait apps” because, while free in the App Store, they often required in-app purchases to play the game. When parents began receiving bills as high as $338.72, they became upset because the apps were supposed to be free, Paid Content wrote.  Because of a fifteen-minute login window that used to exist, children didn’t need to ask their parents to approve the purchases. Apple has since removed the 15 minute window loophole.

A series of class-action lawsuits were brought against Apple and later combined into one lawsuit. Apple then fired back, asking for the case to be thrown out.

U.S. District Judge Edward Da Vila made a ruling on March 31, 2012 saying the parents who filed the class actions suits had suffered sufficient harm for the case to stand. The case didn’t grab attention until tech lawyer Venkat Balasubramani covered it on Eric Goldman’s Law Blog.

As it stands, Apple is expected to file its defense May 24. The company will rely on contract law to uphold its iTunes Terms of Service, which the company believes covers it in the case. However, there is a dispute about how the Terms of Service apply to minors, which may affect the outcome.

You can read the full court documents below.

Children playing with tablet image via Shutterstock

blog comments powered by Disqus