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This article was published on April 27, 2016

Amazon lost an important ruling that could force it to issue refunds for in-app purchases

Amazon lost an important ruling that could force it to issue refunds for in-app purchases
Ben Woods
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Ben Woods

Europe Editor

Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.

A ruling by a federal judge has laid the blame of erroneous in-app purchases made by children with Amazon, which could lead to an order for a full refund for all affected parties.

The case, brought by the Federal Trade Commission against Amazon, essentially hinges on whether ostensibly free to download apps were clearly marked as containing chargeable in-app items and whether suitable safeguards were in place to stop unapproved purchases. It seems in this instance, the judge thinks not, though the exact amount owed warrants further discussion.

Amazon was granted a partial summary judgement against the FTC’s claim for injunctive relief, as the judge didn’t see the likelihood of the problem recurring.

While unauthorized billing of customers, even for small purchases, constitutes part of the substantial harm that Amazon caused customers, and for which monetary damages should be assessed, the Court does not find this to represent a cognizable danger of a recurring violation.

Although the amount of the settlement is unknown – and Amazon could presumably appeal the decision – the case follows similar moves by the FTC against Apple and Google, which it says resulted in refunds of over $50 million to consumers.

Amazon hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.