Google Sued for Kids’ In-App PurchasesAdded: Friday, March 21st, 2014
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The tech giant faces another class action lawsuit that claimed Google is “unfairly profiting” from games in the Play store enabling unauthorized charges for in-app game currency without adults’ knowledge. The case was launched against the tech giant in the US court by a New York mother, whose kid spent about $70 on the virtual currency in the Android game without her permission.
The attorneys representing the plaintiffs claimed that Google has unfairly profited by marketing free or low-cost games to kids and by allowing them to rack up charges for worthless virtual currency, while failing to introduce reasonable controls like a password. The same attorneys represented parents in a similar class action lawsuit against Apple three years ago. The latter resulted in settlement of about $100m.
It is known that the Google Play store requires a payment method be attached to store accounts in order to be able to buy content like games, music, films and books – even if they are available for free. By default the user is required to enter a password to confirm purchases, but this feature can be turned off. Besides, subsequent purchases made within 30 minutes of the password being entered don’t require further authentication anyway.
According to the lawsuit, this 30-minute window after the initial password entry enables kids to make in-game purchases without parental permission.
In the meantime, “freemium” games, which are offered for free or are very cheap, but offer in-app purchases, have become a large trend within the last few years in all platforms, including Android. Google is certainly aware that Apple, for example, is trying to end this unfair practice. By the way, Apple was forced to pay at least $32.5 million to its clients just a few weeks ago after a similar class action lawsuit brought the use of in-app purchases to the attention of the FTC. This means that Apple had to provide a full refund for in-app purchases made without permission from account holders, and the company had already agreed to pay out to parents.
So, the attorneys in a lawsuit against Google point out that such practice is widespread, has been condemned by the FTC and is being investigated by the EU’s consumer protection officials. Therefore, a company of Google’s scale should be aware that it’s allowing unauthorized charges by minor children.
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Friday, March 21st, 2014
|Parents are at fault. they should be monitoring their bank accounts and what their children are doing. I learnt the hard way with my son. Now I check every game or purchase that is made. Also I now receive sms notification from the bank for all transactions.|
|I suppose in some cases that's true, Deathdealer. Both of my kids have Android tablets and the youngest is 5, and he knows not to make purchases. But we're all pretty tech savvy...what about the parent who buys a Nabi tablet for their kid and ends up losing $100's because they didn't catch it in time? I think the point here is that the app developers put those in game purchases in there to make the money off of the kids or un-informed parents. It's an intentional thing. The kids can't all be trusted to make that decision maturely (they're kids, after all) and the parent is left with the bill. And Google allows it to happen all day every day. I really like Google, but I can't stand this practice...||
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