Australia’s consumer watchdog to crack down on ‘free’ apps

Australia's consumer watchdog has declared that it would work on new guidelines or set of principles for governing in-app purchases as part of its efforts to protect customers.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) looked at a total of 340 app games being offered by the Google Play and Apple App Store, and found that nearly three quarters of self-described free apps failed to reveal that users will require make in-app purchases.

The watchdog said fewer than 25 per cent of the game apps revealed that real world money could be used to make in-app purchases.

ACCC Deputy Chairperson Delia Rickard said, "Once you're playing, many games make it clear that you can get ahead or avoid getting bogged down if you shell out for in-app purchases."

Richard added that such game apps often prompt children to spend their parents' real money to make purchases within the games.

The ACCC's announcement follows a set of principles proposed by the U. K.'s Office of Fair trading, which is of the view that consumers must be informed upfront about any potential in-game costs or advertising, and that important terms must be prominently revealed prior to download of an app.

Australia's consumer watchdog has declared that it would be supporting the local implementation of the proposed principles.

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