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Google to Pay $19 Million for Kids’ In App Purchases
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Google to Pay $19 Million for Kids’ In App Purchases

Summary: Many parents complained that it was too easy for their children to buy hundreds of dollars worth of apps in Google’s app store. In response to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, Google will pay $19 million to reimburse these consumers.

Google will pay $19 million to reimburse consumers for apps their children were allegedly deceived into purchasing, the Washington Post reports. The mobile purchases were all through the Android app store. The Federal Trade Commission alleged that for the past three years, the Android app store made it too easy for kids to purchase items. The store contained many apps and games that were targeted toward children, and they ranged from 99 cents to $200.00. Parental permission was not required to purchase these items from the store.

  
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The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating such app stores for the past three years. Apple, Amazon, and Google’s stores have been included in the investigation. The FTC declared that these purchases are deceptive and harmful to children. Apple settled for $32.5 million last January, and Amazon has argued against the charges the FTC filed against it.

The suit alleges that these companies did not provide proper disclosure to parents and children regarding the ability to purchase items within games and other children’s apps. Civil suits have been filed over the purchases as well, particularly criticizing the firms and developers for supposed predatory practices which tempt children to purchase $99 gold coins within a game, for example. Such expensive purchases required no app store passwords or other parental permissions. Apple has changed its app purchase practices, and Amazon has also offered restrictions for parents to use to prohibit such purchases.

Edith Ramirez, FTC Chairwoman, stated, “For millions of American families, smartphones and tablets have become a part of their daily lives. As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it’s vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply, including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize.”

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Previously, Google did not require passwords for purchases in its app store. However, pop-up password boxes were implemented in 2012 after complaints from parents. However, the password allowed access to the store for thirty minutes, which still allowed children to do plenty of damage to their parents’ bank accounts. The FTC’s position is that Google did not adequately explain the practices or alter them to protect consumers.

Parents are still angry about app purchases that reach into the thousands of dollars. Many children did not grasp that purchasing items in a game to make it to the next level actually meant spending real money. Parents complained that it was hard to understand the app purchase systems.



Ayelet Waldman, mother of four children, was livid when her son spent $120 for items such as clothing in the Kim Kardashian app. Such issues were noted as “family fraud” and “friendly fraud” by Google employees. Google, clarifying that its practices have been changed, stated, “We’re glad to put this matter behind us so that we can focus on creating more ways for people to enjoy all the entertainment they love.”



 

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