Amazon to feds: We'll see you in court

Amazon is pushing back on legal pressure from regulators regarding the companies’ app policies.

In a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Amazon defended its app store policies, including notifying parents when children make purchases within apps.


The company confirmed Wednesday that it sent the letter after facing legal threats from the FTC.

Earlier this year, the FTC and Apple reached a $32.5 million settlement over the agency’s claims that the company failed to get parental consent when children made in-app purchases.

Apple agreed to issue refunds totaling $32.5 million and change its billing practices to ensure parents sign off on purchases their kids make within apps.

Similar to the Apple case, the FTC is accusing Amazon of failing to get parental consent when children make in-app purchases or quickly and effectively address complaints about those purchases, Amazon’s letter said this week.

Amazon wrote it has been informed that the FTC has been authorized to file a complaint in federal court against the company for failing to enter into an agreement similar to the consent order between the agency and Apple.

“It’s an understatement to say that this response is deeply disappointing,” Amazon attorney Andrew DeVore wrote in the letter. “The Commission’s unwillingness to depart from the precedent it set with Apple despite our very different facts leaves us no choice but to defend our approach in court.”

Amazon defended its practices, saying the company has worked to ensure parents approve their children’s charges.

“We have continuously improved our experience since launch, but even at launch, when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn’t want, we refunded those purchases,” the letter said.

“Our experience at launch was responsible, customer-focused and lawful, including prominent notice of in-app purchasing, effective parental controls, real-time notice of every in-app purchase and world-class customer service.”

Amazon said it already exceeds to kind of requirements the FTC issued in the Apple case and uses “industry-leading parental controls."

“Pursuing litigation against a company whose practices are lawful from the outset and that already meet or exceed the requirements of the Apple consent order makes no sense and is an unfortunate misallocation of the Commission’s resources,” Amazon wrote.

An FTC spokesman declined to comment on Amazon's claims but pointed to past agency action — including charges brought against T-Mobile Tuesday — to demonstrate its focus "on ensuring that companies comply with the fundamental principle that consumers should not be made to pay for something they did not authorize."

"Consumers using mobile devices have the same long-established and fundamental consumer protections as they would anywhere else," the spokesman said.