Apple Beefs Up In-App Purchase Security With Better Password Controls

On the heels of widespread criticisms that Apple has made it too easy for consumers to accidentally make in-app purchases via their iPhone mobile apps, the new iOS 4.3 operating system update effectively tightens the password protection features within iPhone and iPad applications.

On February 23rd, MMW reported that the Federal Trade Commission was poised to probe the marketing and delivery of mobile apps that charge for products and services. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz responded to a recent letter from US Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) who suggested that the practice of “in-app purchases” – particularly those made possible via Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods – may be resulting in widespread consumer confusion, the outcome of which may be unanticipated or unwanted charges.

According to a report Friday from The Washington Post:

The Cupertino company’s move affects users of its most recent operating system and comes amid growing concern by federal and state enforcement agencies that consumers, including children, were not adequately informed or aware that they were incurring charges on iTunes accounts because of a 15-minute period that allowed for purchases without a password.

As it now stands, “In addition to a password being required to purchase an app on the App Store, a reentry of your password is now required when making an in-app purchase,” Apple says of the iOS update

“This is a victory for consumers,” said Paula Selis, senior counsel for Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who similarly protested about Apple’s in-app purchase policy. “Our attitude about enforcement is that we are most effective with positive change without litigating, and talk an issue through with a company to affect change.”

Although it isn’t yet clear if Apple’s revised in-app purchases protection controls will be adequate to ward off further criticism, it is certainly a step in the right direction for the Cupertino, California-based tech giant.