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Judge orders Amazon to refund parents whose children made in-app purchases

The Amazon logo is pictured in an undated

The Amazon logo is pictured in an undated photo. Credit: Getty Images

Amazon must offer refunds to parents whose children made in-app purchases on Amazon devices without their permission, a federal judge ordered this week.

A US District Court in Seattle issued the order in a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission against Amazon in 2014. The order requires Amazon to set up a claims process beginning early next year to alert parents of their eligibility for refunds, Reuters reported.

The court rejected the FTC's request for a $26.5 million lump-sum payout, however, agreeing with Amazon that that amount might have taken into account unauthorized purchases that were not made by children.

The original FTC complaint cites internal communications from Amazon employees when in-app purchases were first introduced in Dec. 2011. They wrote that the lack of a password requirement was "clearly causing problems for a large percentage of our customers."

The company first required passwords for purchases over $20 in March 2012, and the Amazon Appstore now requires passwords for all in-app purchases.

An Amazon spokesperson did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment on the ruling, which is the latest of several court decisions that have required Amazon's rivals to reimburse similar purchases.

In 2014, Google agreed to refund up to $19 million to customers whose children accidentally racked up in-app purchase charges via their Android devices. It later removed the word "free" from any app that included in-app purchases.

Facebook in July settled a class-action lawsuit covering users who made any kind of purchase through their Facebook accounts between February 2008 and March 2015. They can now request refunds for purchases they believe are unauthorized.

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