Angry American parents launch lawsuit against Apple

Apple are facing a huge lawsuit in the US from angry parents whose children have run up huge bills via apps on their iPads and iPhones. A federal judge has granted the group permission to pursue the class action claim after Apple’s call for the dismissal of the claim was rejected.

The case revolves around in-app purchasing; where users buy virtual currency and add ons that cost up to £70 for games and various other software. The Apps that use this system are usually free to download initially, giving no indication of the costs to follow.

The parents are arguing that Apple are making it too easy for kids to spend money on such digital items as ‘smurfberries’, which are featured in the Smurf Village game without the payments being authorised by the parents. The in-app purchases are then billed to the iTunes account, and the credit card that is linked to the iPad or iPhone. There have been several incidents of kids running bills up of hundreds of pounds in both the US and the UK.

In the papers they filed to the court, the American parents have accused Apple of ‘inducing’ kids to make these in-app purchases. It says that amongst the thousands of apps that Apple offer for sale are many gaming apps specifically aimed at children.

It goes on to say that many of these games are designed to induce their users to then make payments, and as these games are highly addictive and deliberately designed to be so, they compel the kids playing them to buy large quantities of the games virtual currency, amounting to purchases of as much as $100, and often even more.

In their attempt to get the case thrown out,. Apple highlighted the controls within the iOS that parents can use to restrict in-app purchases, but the parents have responded by saying the aren’t strong enough.