FTC sues Amazon over in-app purchases made by kids

As had been expected, the Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), alleging that the online retailer made it too easy for children to make millions of dollars' worth of unauthorized in-app purchases on its Kindle tablet devices. The FTC wants to make Amazon refund money spent without parental permission and to stop Amazon from allowing in-app purchases without requiring a password or other mechanism that gives parents more control.

The FTC wants the online retail giant to submit to terms similar to ones that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) agreed to in January over in-app purchases. The FTC imposed a $32.5 million fine on Apple to settle charges that the company didn't do enough to prevent children from purchasing virtual goods within apps without getting consent from parents.

Amazon declined to comment, according to Re/code, but noted a recent letter the company sent to the FTC defending its practices. In the letter, Amazon had said it had already refunded money to parents who complained. The company said it would rather fight a lawsuit, which was not yet filed, than agree to fines and additional record-keeping and disclosure requirements over the next 20 years. Amazon said its Appstore includes "prominent notice of in-app purchasing, effective parental controls and real-time notice of every in-app purchase."

"No one is more focused on creating a great experience for customers than Amazon and in that respect we are completely aligned with the Commission's goals," Amazon wrote. "Pursuing litigation against a company whose practices were lawful from the outset and that already meet or exceed the requirements of the Apple consent order makes no sense and is an unfortunate misallocation of the Commission's resources." Article