Menu
'Free' apps may be violating EU consumer protection laws

'Free' apps may be violating EU consumer protection laws

EU authorities are expressing concern about 'in-app' purchases

Europe's app providers were warned by authorities Thursday that many of them are violating consumer protection laws.

Following complaints in Denmark, France, the U.K., Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and Lithuania, E.U. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and national enforcement authorities from across Europe are meeting Thursday and Friday with industry representatives, including Apple and Google, to outline the rules they must follow.

The biggest problem is the issue of so-called "in-app" purchases, by which consumers access special content or features for a fee, on products labeled as "free." Currently more than 50 percent of the E.U. online games' market consists of games advertised as free, despite often incorporating costly, in-app purchases. Misleading consumers in this way could be in breach of E.U. law, the Commission said.

App providers will also be warned not to exhort children to buy items in a game and to avoid marketing free to download games that are not free to play.

However representatives defended the so-called "freemium" model. "Consumers are the ultimate beneficiaries of the freemium model because it allows them to try before they buy.  It gives consumers the power to decide how much, or how little, they want to spend," said Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT).

Consumers are often not fully aware that they are spending money because their credit cards get charged by default. According to E.U. law, app providers must get explicit consent for such charges. Industry will be asked to commit to providing solutions within a clear timeframe to ensure proper consumer protection.

"Misleading consumers is clearly the wrong business model and also goes against the spirit of E.U. rules on consumer protection. The European Commission will expect very concrete answers from the app industry to the concerns raised by citizens and national consumer organizations," Reding said.

Zuck said that on-device solutions already exist. "On iOS devices, for example, App Store users are alerted to in-app purchasing features before they download an app. The device owner can also completely disable in-app purchases. All users are required to enter a password before making purchases, which is entirely within a parent's control" he said.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentmobileregulationlegislationmobile applicationsAssociation for Competitive Technology

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments