By Max Clarke

In response to the rising prevalence of application software, or ‘apps’, the independent regulator PhonepayPlus has today published its first public consultation in an effort to make app use safer and fairly priced for users.

“That apps have the ability to enrich the lives of millions of consumers and children is not in question,” the guidance’s executive summary stated. “However, just as with any technological development, they can have their downsides. As pieces of software downloaded to a mobile phone, they have the ability to perform functions that were not expected, nor wanted.”

Certain apps can charge users significant sums for virtual goods, with the Smurfs’ Village game charging £60 for intangible Smurfberries. Often adults can be unaware of their children amounting costly bills simply by playing a game.

Though the Smurfs’ game warns users if a purchase is going to be made, others can do so without the knowledge or consent of the user. The BBC cite the example of an app that charged up £4.50 for text messages sent automatically. The ‘rogue’ app has since been closed down by the regulator.

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