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Judge sides with FTC, finds Amazon liable for in-app charges made by kids

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Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

A judge has decided that Amazon is responsible for letting children make in-app purchases without any constraints, which racked up bills for their parents.

If the case sounds familiar, that’s because it first began in July of 2014, when the Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon for its in-app purchases. Parents typically leave their credit card information stored in app stores, which lets them make purchases quickly. The lawsuit targeted the fact that kids could make such purchases without parental consent. The only restriction was for payments over $20, which then required a password.

Related: FTC is continuing its probe into Google’s dominant Android OS

Amazon isn’t the only company to have faced this complaint from consumers and the FTC. The commission reached settlements with Apple and Google — Apple gave back more than $32 million, and Google returned $19 million to customers with app-hungry kids. Google also altered its process of getting free apps, making it harder for children to do so without a Google account password.

Amazon previously rejected the FTC’s claims, and the company and the commission decided to duke it out in court. Now, the federal court presiding over the case has ruled that the steps Amazon took to inform its customers about in-app charges in free apps were “not sufficient.”

“We are pleased the federal judge found Amazon liable for unfairly billing consumers for unauthorized in-app purchases by children,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a blog post. “We look forward to making a case for full refunds to consumers as a result of Amazon’s actions.”

Related: Amazon continues battle to rid site of fake reviews

While the court ruled in favor of the FTC, Amazon and the commission still have to respond to related court orders to provide further information. The court will then make a “determination as to the appropriate remedy.”