Amazon Stands Up To FTC Demands For More Parental Controls

Amazon is refusing to comply with a request from the Federal Trade Commission to implement stricter controls that would prevent children from making in-app purchases.

The FTC is demanding Amazon implement a “consent” model similar to the one Apple conceded to earlier this year, according to a letter Amazon to the FTC Tuesday. Amazon believes it already has implemented effective parental controls consistent with the model the FTC settled on with Apple, and it says it refunded customers who complained of children making in-app purchases without their permission.

“In-app purchasing was and remains a new and rapidly evolving segment, and we have consistently improved the customer experience in response to data,” wrote Amazon’s lawyer Andrew DeVore in the letter.

The FTC is threatening to take Amazon to court if it does not create a model like Apple’s to control children’s in-app purchases, according to Devore.

Apple reached a settlement with the FTC in January that required the company to refund $32.5 million to 37,000 customers whose children made purchases on their iPad or iPod without permission. It also changed its billing practices to ensure that customers give expressed, informed consent for purchases before they are charged in the mobile store.

Previously, if users entered their password to make one purchase, they were able to make unlimited purchases for the next 15 minutes.

Currently Amazon gives parents the option of requiring a PIN for every in-app purchase. In his letter, DeVore said the company leads the industry in parental controls with Kindle Free Time, and Amazon says it is willing to take its fight to court.

It seems the FTC’s decision to throw these demands at Amazon now could be proactive. The company is sure to have more in-app purchases with its first venture into smartphones, the Fire Phone.