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Amazon girds for FTC’s lawsuit

Online giant defends its parental controls

– Amazon says it is prepared to go to court against the Federal Trade Commission to defend itself against charges that it has not done enough to prevent children from making unauthorized in-app purchases.

The FTC alleged in a draft lawsuit released by Amazon that unauthorized charges by children on Amazon tablets have amounted to millions of dollars.

Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. said in a letter Tuesday to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez that it already had refunded money to parents who complained.

It also said its parental controls go beyond what the FTC required from Apple when it imposed a $32.5 million fine on that company in January over a similar matter.

Amazon’s Kindle Free Time app can limit how much time children spend on Kindle tablets as well as require a personal identification number for in-app purchases, Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said.

“Parents can say – at any time, for every purchase that’s made – that a PIN is required,” he said.

By not agreeing to a settlement with the FTC, the company faces a potential lawsuit by the government agency in federal district court.

Apple complained when the FTC announced its settlement with the company in January.

CEO Tim Cook explained to employees in a memo that the settlement did not require the company to do anything it wasn’t doing already, but he added that it “smacked of double jeopardy” because Apple had already settled a similar class-action lawsuit in which it agreed to refunds.

The FTC wouldn’t comment on whether it is investigating Amazon’s in-app purchase policies but said in a statement: “The Commission is focused on ensuring that companies comply with the fundamental principle that consumers should not be made to pay for something they did not authorize.”

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