FTC will look into mobile apps marketing to kids

By Anne Collier

After news coverage of kids racking up huge iTunes bills for their parents while playing game apps on iPhones and iPod Touches gained and letters from US lawmakers to the Federal Trade Commission about this, the Commission announced it will investigate, Ars Technica reports. In a letter to the FTC, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) wrote that “what may appear in these games to be virtual coins and prizes to children result in very real costs to parents.” According to Mobile Marketing Watch, he was acknowledging the response from FTC chair Jon Leibowitz: “We fully share your concern that consumers, particularly children, are unlikely to understand the ramifications of these types of purchases. Let me assure you we will look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications.” Here’s the article in the Washington Post that Representative Markey said sparked his concern. It reports that in-app purchases have “catapulted children’s games such as Smurfs’ Village and Tap Zoo, by San Francisco-based Pocket Gems, into the ranks of the highest-grossing apps on iPods, iPhones and iPads.”

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