“It’s early, but the Federal Trade Commission is going to be hard to beat for the regulatory overreach of the year,” L. Gordon Crovitz writes for The Wall Street Journal. “Last month the agency approved a $32.5 million settlement with Apple in a case that the dissenting commissioner, Joshua Wright, says boils down to this question: ‘Do you really want a regulatory agency designing your iPad?’ He isn’t exaggerating. Mr. Wright’s fellow commissioners pursued Apple over what they decided was poor design of the iPad. This critique may be a first for Apple, which is renowned for superb design, including ease of use. But Washington knows best.”

“He noted that the FTC’s directive, which spells out how Apple’s buying process [In-App Purchase] must work for the next 20 years, ‘is very likely to do more harm to consumers than it is to protect them.’ For example, Apple already uses fingerprints to unlock its mobile phones and could do the same to authorize payments—except that would violate the terms of the FTC order, which didn’t anticipate this innovation,” Crovitz writes. “Mr. Wright called this opinion the ‘most problematic agency action I have seen in terms of the potential to cause harm to consumers. He added that ‘it demonstrates a distinct lack of regulatory humility… This is a product-design case brought in the guise of alleged unfairness to consumers.'”

“The FTC risks ridicule for its micromanaging. ‘In my day, when a kid spent his parents’ money when he wasn’t supposed to, a form of indentured servitude ensued to pay off the debt,’ wrote a wry reporter for Engadget.com. ‘These days, courtrooms and federal agencies are the parentally preferred sources of remuneration,'” Crovitz writes. “Google’s Android apps operate in a similar way to Apple’s. Banks allow customers to make multiple transactions online without re-entering passwords. So do many online retailers. Will the FTC review all their product designs, too? Redesigning Apple products redefines regulatory arrogance. Humility from government? Too bad there’s no app for that.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple to refund at least $32.5 million to settle FTC complaint it charged for kids’ In-App Purchases without parental consent – January 16, 2014
Apple’s Cook settles with FTC over kids’ In-App Purchases rather than endure legal fight – January 15, 2014
Apple refunds 8-year-old girl’s $6,000 bill for in-app purchases – July 21, 2013
Apple notifies parents of In-App Purchase settlement details – June 24, 2013
In-App Purchasing lawsuit against Apple allowed to proceed – April 21, 2012
Parents sue Apple over in-app charges – April 16, 2012
Lack of parental controls on Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire lets kids charge up a storm – December 12, 2011
Freemium and Apple’s App Store: The in-app purchasing model really works – October 14, 2011