FTC Sues Amazon for Games Bought by Children without Parental Consent

Saturday, July 12, 2014
(photo: Amazon)

Amazon is facing a federal lawsuit for allowing children to buy games and accessories through the online giant’s website without parents knowing about the purchases ahead of time.


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this week sued the company for not providing parental consent barriers to keep kids from acquiring games, as well as digital coins, clothing, clues and other goods related to games purchased through Amazon’s app store.

According to the suit, shortly after Amazon began allowing in-app purchases, complaints about children making unauthorized purchases were “near house on-fire,” according to an Amazon App Store manager.


Federal regulators are seeking a settlement similar to the outcome in a case involving Apple, which also was accused of not having sufficient parental control over purchases by children. In that case, Apple agreed to pay $32.5 million in refunds to customers.


Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said that the agency seeks from Amazon a deal consistent with Apple’s.


Rich faulted Amazon for “sticking parents with unexpected bills in the hundreds of dollars,” resulting in “thousands of complaints.”


In its defense, Amazon has said changes to its in-app purchase program were made two years ago, including the requirement of passwords for sales worth more than $20. Last month Amazon began to require parental consent, but the FTC will continue with its litigation, which it intends to pursue until reaching a settlement.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Amazon Sued Over Billing for App Store Purchases (by Steve Lohr, New York Times)

FTC v. Amazon (U.S. District Court, Western Washington) (pdf)


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