Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over In-App Purchases

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A father of two girls in Pennsylvania is taking Apple to court for allegedly banking millions of dollars from unauthorized in-app purchases.

Garen Meguerian of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, is the lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit against Apple, Apple Insider reports. Meguerian claims that the company's old approach to in-app purchases on iOS devices allowed his 9-year-old daughter to purchase roughly $200 in virtual goods without permission.

The problem, Meguerian explained, was that after entering a password to download an app, users had a 15-minute window to purchase whatever they liked without entering the password again, including in-app purchases.

The lawsuit acknowledges that Apple changed its approach with iOS 4.3, requiring a password for all in-app purchases, but not before the company allegedly pocketed "millions of dollars" from unauthorized purchases. It's not clear from Apple Insider's report how Meguerian arrived at those figures.

Meguerian's lawsuit says the new in-app purchasing method still isn't good enough, because it doesn't protect against instances where the child already knows the parent's iTunes password. Honestly, I'm not sure what he expects Apple to do about that. Ever since Apple enabled in-app purchases in 2009, parents have been able to restrict this feature with parental controls, behind a separate PIN. At a certain point, the parent has to take some responsibility.

Still, Apple's approach to in-app purchases was too lax before iOS 4.3, making it too easy for kids to rack up charges without parents' knowledge. Whether that should translate into payments of damages to Meguerian and other parents is for the court to decide.

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