Google has been ordered to pay $19 Million to consumers by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is because of unsupervised children making in-app-purchases through Google’s Play Store without their parent’s knowledge and therefore not being granted bill payers permission.
It was assumed by the FTC that Google billed these unaware parents unfairly due to not putting the correct authorisation procedures in place to prevent such an occurrence. The purchases took place on devices running Android OS meaning they would also have been using Google’s Play Store, which apparently means Google are responsible.
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In-app-purchases are often used to gain progress within a game and can vary from coins and accessories to whole new characters and levels. The FTC said that Google have agreed to improve their security and billing techniques and agreed to make sure “express, informed consent” is given each time so that it is the bill payer giving permission not their child or other party.
According to the Washington Post, any Android who may be eligible for a refund will hear from Google with more information on how to claim back those pesky in-app charges.
Google does have a control system that the user can change, letting them control how often they need to put in their password when making a purchase. The settings vary from every time they make a purchase, to every 30 minutes, or never required. Although, not a lot of users are actually aware that these password entry options are available to them.
A Google spokesperson spoke about the matter stating: “We’ve already made product changes to ensure people have the best Google Play experience possible. We’re glad to put this matter behind us so we can focus on creating more ways for people to enjoy all the entertainment they love.”
Google said they would comply with the European Commission’s request to offer clearer information at the point of sale and to not advertise apps as being “free” when they do in fact contain in-app purchases.
Whether or not these charges are seen to be Google’s fault or the fault of parents not putting adequate password security in place is debatable; however Google are taking the brunt of the responsibility, but they can only do so much; now it’s up to the users to do the same.