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Improving In-App Purchasing Protection for EU Consumers?

Robert Miklós Babirad 

1          Introduction

In a press release from July 18, 2014,[1] the European Commission claimed that its joint enforcement measures, which have been carried out in conjunction with consumer protection authorities from the EU’s Member States, have resulted in the provision of better online gaming protection for EU consumers and specifically within the area of in-app gaming purchases.[2]  An in-app purchase may constitute, but is not limited to a bonus level in a game, “maps, experience points, subscriptions” or “recurring services,” which may be purchased by a consumer within an app, such as an online game.[3] This relatively new business model of in-app purchases within online games is an expanding market both within the EU and abroad.[4]  However, complaints have included concerns with misleading advertising such as online games, which are advertised as “free,” but may actually require additional purchases for their normal functioning; default settings, which do not require a customer’s explicit authorisation prior to account deductions being made for in-app items; and inadvertent in-app purchases being made by children.[5]

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