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(Sep 14, 2012) On September 12, 2012, Birgitta Ohlsson, the Swedish minister responsible for consumer affairs, announced that the government might introduce legislation "to prevent children from emptying their parents' bank accounts in just a few clicks when playing with their smartphones," potentially subjecting the parents to financial ruin. (Sweden Mulls Law on Kids' Phone Spending, THE LOCAL (Sept. 12, 2012).) Ohlsson's comments were based on the report "App to Date," submitted to the ministry by an independent committee charged with making recommendations on improving protection for consumers in the mobile phone market. (
The report's main author, a former justice of Sweden's Supreme Court, proposed "that in disputes where parents contest exorbitant fees which they claim were charged by their children, the law should assume that the parents are dealing in good faith." (
In making its recommendation, the report cited a case highlighted by the local press in April 2011, when two young brothers, six and seven years old, spent SEK50,000 (about US$7,600) in connection with the Smurf Village game, which their mother had purchased for them for seven kronor from the Apple iTunes store before a family road trip. Once the children were playing the game, however, unbeknownst to the mother, it became possible for them to make purchases without the use of a password. It was only after "a flood of payment messages started to flow in" from the App store that the parents realized they had a problem. (
Questions are being posed, however, as to how to handle the "shadier practices" involving in-apps. Given that "[s]elf-regulation by app publishers doesn't seem to be working," one reporter asked, "is it time for stricter rules and punishment from Apple and other app store owners? Or even government regulation?" (Dredge, supra.) A games industry consultant, speaking in a panel session on apps at the Children's Media Conference in England held from July 4-6, 2012, expressed the view that there probably will be regulation, but also indicated that individual companies, rather than the whole industry, might face censure. (
In the United States, in the meantime, it was reported in April 2012 that a
|Author:||Wendy Zeldin More by this author|
|Topic:||Communications More on this topic|
|Jurisdiction:||Sweden More about this jurisdiction|
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Last updated: 09/14/2012