Thursday, January 16, 2014

Redundant Nanny Statism at its worst?

The penetration of Smartphones and Tablets into our everyday lives has been very quick.   Yesterday the Federal Trade Commission announced a "settlement" with Apple regarding unauthorized purchases from their APP store that were supposedly done by children.  That will cost the rest of us about $32 million.
Cartoon from the Onion

“This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing and a signal to the business community,” said FTC Chairwoman( and chief nanny in charge) Edith Ramirez. “You cannot charge consumers for charges they did not authorize.”   The FTC pounced after a class action suit was settled a couple of months ago.  I disagreed with the settlement at the time.

So what happened here.   A bunch of kids got ahold of their parent's iPhones or iPads and
ordered a bunch of stuff, including in APP purchases that amounted to a lot of dough.

So what is wrong with this?  From my perspective a lot.   When you buy a mobile device one of the reasons you do it is to be connected.  Take some comparable examples.   If a child in a household found a friend in a far away place and began making phone calls to the friend - who should be responsible for the purchases?  The parents.  Parents or other adults should teach the kids to exercise self restraint.

The same principle should apply here - even though Apple already forces consumers to enter a password to purchase APPs or other stuff.   If parents are worried that their little darlings will be buying "smurf points" then they can take a couple of parental actions.  They can password protect their device and keep the password away from the kid.   When they give the kid the device they can turn off cellular and wifi.   They could keep an eye on their bills.  Or even more amazing they could tell their children to take some personal responsibility and understand that actions are not without consequences.

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