Lawsuit filed against Google over in-app purchases by minors


A class action lawsuit has been filed against Google by a New York mother who alleges Google is unfairly profiting from in-app purchases by permitting minors to make them without parents’ knowledge. The action is similar to an issue that Apple just recently resolved over a similar business model. According to one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff, Google has failed to incorporate reasonable controls that results in minors racking up excessive charges for “worthless in-game currency.”

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are alleging that Google implemented a 30-minute window after password entry specifically to “enable children to purchase in-game currency without parental permission and without having to enter a password.” Google Play requires a password for purchases to be confirmed by default, but users can turn off that feature. In addition, even when a password is entered the system will permit additional purchases to be made for another 30 minutes without re-entering the password.

Shanon J. Carson, with Berger & Montague, is representing the plaintiff in this case after wrapping up a $100 Million settlement against Apple for permitting these types of purchases without parental consent. That lawsuit also triggered FTC action and the practice of allowing in-app purchases, especially in games, is also being investigated by the European Union.

Do you think responsibility for issues related to in-app purchases by minors lies with companies like Google and Apple or with someone else?

source: The Guardian

About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active an active runner usually training for his next marathon, owns a Mazda MX-5 Miata, and plays Dungeons & Dragons. Jeff has three grown kids and a golden retriever.

  • JimmytheGeek

    Sorry, it’s parental responsibility to monitor what the child does. Basic parenting 101.

  • Codycja

    Its not googles problem. If you are a parent like me you should be watching what your children are doing with google play. I hope this woman loses the case

    • fun spirit man

      Im surprised Google doesn’t have some blanket Terms of Service agreement in place that indemnifies them unauthorized use for purchases in-app. This seems basic.

  • Paul David

    I like many had my nephew rack up 40 bucks buying worthless Crap in angry birds, which was promptly refunded. I explained why he shouldn’t be buying any that has a dollar sign next to it, enabled a password for any purchases made, never had a problem again in about 2 years.

    This sounds like a crafty way to get free money off in app purchases by allowing a 30 minute window after an initial password entry. There are two sides to this coin, educate your children on being responsible, which if they are old enough to be playing games on smartphone they are old enough to understand what not to do if th e parent explains the reason for it. This seems to me like a blatant move by Google to “catch you slippin” if let’s say you allow one purchase for that child or buy something for yourself and hand your phone over to your kiddo. It can also be looked at as making things more convenient for the user so you won’t get prompted over and over if happen to make multiple purchases.

    The lawsuit? That’s just some b!tch trying to make some money off of everyone else’s (and googles) mistakes.. Or maybe I’m just mad she thought of it first

  • LiveLongAndProsper

    I usually think that these kind of lawsuits are stupid but this time I’m kinda on her side. It’s pretty simple, Google and Apple (and others) should require the user/owner/parent to authorize each and every purchase by identifying himself/herself by entering the password every time except if he/she agrees to disable this feature in the Settings by authorizing this move using the password, where they can choose to disable the password permanently or temporarily (X number of minutes). If the parent gives the child the password or the child sees the password the was entered then it’s the parent’s fault.
    In short: 1) more security and less comfortability. 2) parents are accountable for all the purchases.

  • Zech

    She should get refunded the money spent and that’s it, and Google should promptly change the 30min window to a password prompt for every purchase unless specifically changed by the authorized user informed consent and make it easy to u derstand and legally binding.

  • Momofsix

    Why is the world responsible for teaching our children right from wrong? All this teaches them is doing wrong will result in a monetary reward. It is our responsibility to teach them these life lessons and not schools, daycare or any other venue. Make the kid pay the parents back, perhaps this will make parents raise their own children and teach them right from wrong. I have six grown children and each one was taught right from wrong and understand they are responsible for their own actions.

  • fredphoesh

    This is the kind of Mini-Mall-Moron who would sue McDonalds for burning herself on a cup of coffee…

    • Billy Jack

      Hey idiot, that elderly woman suffered third degree burns on the inner part of her thighs from a coffee that didn’t have the lid on correctly causing her to have to undergo skin graphs to replace the skin that was burned off. You might actually want to read beyond the headlines and educate yourself.