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Think of the children: how European in-app purchases are changing

In-app purchases in Europe are about to face a few changes to better "protect" children and consumers, especially in regards to Google's policies, according to Europa.

In 2013, national authorities within the Consumer Protection Cooperation network asked Apple, Google and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe to avoid advertising games as "free" if they involve costs and to avoid direct exhortation to kids to "buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them." Other stipulations ask that consumers be informed about payment arrangements for purchases, not debited through default settings, and that companies should provide an email address for customers to contact with complaints.

Speaking about the new guidelines,  EU Commissioner for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica explained that the "very first enforcement action of its kind" is huge.

"This is significant for consumers," Mimica said. "In particular, children must be better protected when playing online. The action also provides invaluable experience for the ongoing reflection on how to most effectively organize the enforcement of consumer rights in the Union. It has demonstrated that cooperation pays off and helps to improve the protection of consumers in all Member States."

Google expects to implement "a number of changes" by September 2014. Apple, meanwhile, has "regrettably" shown no immediate solutions to concerns. The CPC has promised to continue working with Apple to ensure changes are made.

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