Google Faces Lawsuit Over Kids' In-App Purchases

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A class-action suit was filed against Google last week by parents of children who downloaded free or low-cost apps and games in the Google Play store and proceeded to rack up some sizable in-app fees. 

A New York woman's 5-year-old son downloaded a 99-cent offering from Marvel Games called Marvel Run Jump Smash! to a Samsung Galaxy tablet and bought $65.95 worth of in-app purchases, according to a GigaOm report.

Per a recent change to the Google Play store in February, app descriptions (including the game in question) now include a line letting users know whether or not they include in-app purchases. However, as it stands now, while you have to enter your password to buy apps, Google allows users to make further purchases for up to 30 minutes afterwards.   

Related: French Courts Force Google to Air Indiscretion on Homepage 

The attorneys behind the suit allege that many apps in the Google Play store are geared toward young consumers, and that they are "engineered to be highly addictive and require the purchase of in-game currency at times to continue playing. The games frequently permit the purchase of in-game currency in large amounts – as much as $100 per purchase or more."

Apple has also been the subject of similar complaints. Last year, the company paid $5 million to settle a comparable private class-action lawsuit, and also reached a $32.5 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in January. Apple now requires users to provide their passwords before making any in-app purchase. The Google case was also filed with the court where the Apple case was settled, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  

Related: Life Coaches, Gamification and Augmented Reality: What to Expect in Mobile This Year

Edition: July 2017

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