Google Reaches Settlement in In-App Purchase Lawsuit
It's a old story adapted for a new age: a child buys a few items unbeknownst to his or her parents using the parents' credit card. However, because of the circumstances, this time the parents may be able to get some of those lost dollars back.
Google has agreed to pay a $19 million settlement to consumers in a lawsuit involving unauthorized in-app purchases made by children on their parents' phones. The suit alleged that Google did not have enough protection from children making in-app purchases without parents' permission, and the tech giant eventually seemed to agree.
According to a report by CNET, the Federal Trade Commission took Google on in the suit, alleging that "Google unfairly billed account holders on its Google Play market by not getting authorization from parents when kids bought things from apps on devices running Google's Android, the most popular mobile operating system in the world."
"As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it's vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, in a statement quoted by CNET. "Including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize."
This isn't the first time a big tech company had to pay big bucks because of reckless child purchases. Apple was forced to make major changes to its purchasing system and pay $32.5 million to its iPhone and iPad customers in the same type of lawsuit back in January, which in retrospect makes it seems like Google got off easy. Amazon also came under scrutiny in a similar suit, but they've put up a fight and settlement has not yet been reached.
The advent of digital-based store on phones and other devices have created a Wild West of purchasing power. Anyone can go into any app store at any time and purchase whatever they please. Before these suits these purchases were basically one-click functions, starting a download as soon as the button was tapped. Now, because of these legal proceedings, the devices will ask us if we're sure we want to purchase those extra Candy Crush turns or that premium Simpsons character in Tapped Out before we actually do so.
This saves a lot of money for parents and a lot of headaches for the rest of us. We hope that tech companies wise up and place these types of warnings into their devices before legal action is needed, but we have a feeling we're going to see something like this again in no time.