Smartphone app inquiry launched in Australia

Children playing games on smartphones The Australian government says it is particularly concerned about apps popular with children.

An official inquiry into smartphone apps has been commissioned by the Treasury of the Australian government.

Australia's Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said he would be inviting smartphone owners to "name and shame" apps they were unhappy with.

The inquiry will ask whether users are given enough information about the costs associated with apps before and after they are downloaded.

The public consultation will end in January 2013.

"In a very short period of time, new mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have changed the way consumers engage in commerce," said Mr Bradbury in a statement.

"At the same time though, some consumers have raised concerns about aspects of mobile commerce, particularly where purchases can be made without much difficulty using stored credit card data."

Mr Bradbury said he was particularly concerned by apps aimed at children that encourage the purchase of virtual goods and subscriptions.

"We have strong consumer laws in Australia that protect the rights of consumers and place clear obligations on businesses," he said.

"This inquiry is an opportunity to look at the adequacy of existing measures to address any consumer concern."

The inquiry, which will start soon, will be carried out by the government's Consumer Affairs Advisory Council.

People will be able to submit their experiences via the council's website.

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