By Diane Bartz and Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Apple Inc will refund consumers at least $32.5 million to settle a longstanding complaint that the technology company billed U.S. consumers for charges incurred by children buying mobile apps without their parents consent. Under the terms of the settlement, announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Apple also will be required to change its billing practices to ensure it obtains consent from consumers before charging for items sold in mobile apps. Whether youre doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply, said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize. In an internal memo to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company decided to settle rather than risk a long and distracting legal battle because the FTCs proposals aligned with the companys own intended changes.