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Apple nudged FTC to look into Google Play Store after in-app purchase settlement

Days after the company agreed to a $32.5 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchase policies, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell sent an email to commissioners directing their attention to an article saying the Google Play Store lets children spend their parents' money "like a drunken sailor."


Source: FTC

"I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it," Sewell wrote to commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill in an e-mail uncovered by Politico. The article in question, from watchdog Consumer Reports, lays bare faults in Google's own app marketplace that mirror those that landed Apple in hot water with federal regulators.

It is unclear if the commission followed up on Sewell's missive, though no investigation or lawsuit against Google has been announced.

The FTC announced an investigation into the in-app purchase behavior of so-called "freemium" apps and games aimed at children in 2011, following complaints from consumers. In one high-profile incident, an 8-year-old spent more than $6,000 on in-app purchases before his parents caught on, though Apple eventually refunded that money.

A number of other families in a similar situation banded together in a class-action suit, which Apple settled by offering full refunds and iTunes credits to those affected. The FTC continued its own legal action, however, leading to an eventual agreement with terms that essentially mirrored those of the earlier class-action suit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized the FTC's decision to press the matter, saying that it "smacked of double jeopardy." At least one of the commissioners agreed with Cook, penning a dissent that said the FTC's decision had "no foundation."