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Google Android The Courts

Google Sued Over Children's In-App Android Purchases 321

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
jfruh writes "Android apps sold through the Google Play app store require the user to enter their username and password before making an in-app purchase — but once they've done that, they can continue to do so for half an hour without re-authenticating. Now a lawsuit is claiming this loophole allows children to run up in-app purchases on their parents' credit cards, 'causing Google to pocket millions of dollars.'"
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Google Sued Over Children's In-App Android Purchases

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  • Please.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Apotekaren (904220) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:30AM (#46471543)

    For once, won't someone think of the PARENTS?

    • by DragonTHC (208439)

      you jest, but once my 3 year old son purchased $28 of nothing from nexon through google play.

      The apps are designed to make it really easy for both non-readers and readers alike to buy stuff with flashy graphics.

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chatterton (228704) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:38AM (#46471563) Homepage

    Why Google didn't reacted following the Apple case? It was just a question of time before the same kind of lawsuit would begin against them...

    • by realsilly (186931)

      I thought Apple also allows a few purchases for x # minutes after the password is entered. I think that was the compromise of no password at all.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:41AM (#46471569)
    Just call the credit card company and tell them that you didn't authorise these payments, then tell google you've done that. This puts the ball in google's court - the payment goes into dispute and they need to decide whether to claim that you did authorise the purchase or give you a refund. My money would be on the latter.
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Given that Google will likely have a very clear record that you did indeed authorize the payment this action could very quickly land you in hot water.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Given that Google will likely have a very clear record that you did indeed authorize the payment this action could very quickly land you in hot water.

        No - because if you read TFA people are authorising a payment and google is taking more without authorisation.

        • Nope, people *think* they only authorized one payment, because they don't know how the system works.
          What they actually are authorizing is a 30 minute windows of purchases.

          How can Google fix it? Just remind them at every log-in. "The device will have authorization for payments for the next 30 minutes."

      • Given that Google will likely have a very clear record that you did indeed authorize the payment this action could very quickly land you in hot water.

        But you didn't. Not if your three year old pressed the button, without you knowing. It's not just a matter of payment. It is a purchase, which is a contract. The payment is just part of that contract. The three year old entered a contract, which as we all should know is voidable for the next fifteen years (when the three year old turned 18). When the contract is voided, any payments have to be repaid.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          This does not make the vendor any more liable than handing your son your credit card and telling him to go buy some ice cream and complaining when he comes back with a shopping trolly of candy. You authorized the payment and handed over the ability to change that payment to a third party. Telling the credit card company that you at this point didn't authorize, especially when in control of the device is committing fraud.

          I've actually seen this scenario played out in real terms. When the card was handed over

    • Just call Google and they'll take care of it. I called them the other day when an AUTHORISED purchase was charged to the wrong card. I wanted to switch the charge to a different CC. I had intended to pay with one card (mine), but Wallet had defaulted to another (my employer's). Google refunded it and suggested I pay them again after changing the account settings.

      Of they'll refund an AUTHORISED charge I'm sure they'll handle an unauthorised charge.

  • Wait a minute... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by narcc (412956) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:43AM (#46471575) Journal

    This sounds awfully familiar... Didn't Apple have this exact same problem?

    Thanks, TFA:

    The case against Google is similar to one brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against Apple over children's in-app purchases. That case was settled in January and Apple agreed to pay at least US$32.5 million to customers.

    Now we need to ask why Google didn't take action to prevent this sort of thing.

  • There Google goes again, copying Apple. This time getting themselves sued for the same reason.

  • IF the system asked "do you want us to save your cc# for later purchases?" and they affirmed, it's the parents' problem.

    If, OTOH the cc# was saved without advising the user that it WOULD be saved, that's just economic opportunism, and SHOULD be illegal - saving cc# data in a format that it can be executed for a transaction without affirmative confirmation by the sole cardholder is pretty much the same as making a copy of their cc, no?

  • Simple Checkbox (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Drethon (1445051) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:35AM (#46471863)
    That says "Remember this payment method for the next half hour?" Then they can choose to make it a one shot only payment.
  • by X10 (186866)

    Of course, parents can be held in no way responsible for handing their phone to their kids and having their credit card emptied. Same as when I hand my credit card to my kid, it's not my fault when my kid uses it to buy stuff online.

    What are these people thinking?

    • Of course, parents can be held in no way responsible for handing their phone to their kids and having their credit card emptied. Same as when I hand my credit card to my kid, it's not my fault when my kid uses it to buy stuff online.

      What are these people thinking?

      That nothing is their, or their kid's fault. It's the same reasoning that blames teachers for bad grades, coaches for not playing their child, cops for giving them a ticket for running a stop sign, etc. Clearly someone else is to blame for their actions.

  • by Akratist (1080775) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:38AM (#46471869)
    Ho hum. Try exercising some parental responsibility for a change.
    • Ho hum. Try exercising some parental responsibility for a change.

      I suppose then that the responsible thing for a parent to do would be avoid using Google products and services wherever possible, given Google's apparent disinterest in providing software support for responsible parenting.

      Do you suppose they'd be OK with that?

  • I did a stint with a major carrier doing customer service and billing related stuff. Calls like this came in all the time. Standard procedure was to refund the money and educate the customer so it doesn't happen again. Of course you log in their account that you gave them a one time courtesy refund and educated them on the matter so if they call back with the same complaint you can find a polite way of saying "Too bad so sad". I also spent a lot of time flat out blocking the ability to purchase from the pla
  • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:50AM (#46471911)
    No!
    Oh but why?
    No!
    But. But.. That's not fair.
    Don't care. Grow up unhappy.

    Kids need to learn how to say No! to their kids or you end up with shitty grandchildren.
    That's my motivation and future investment in people done.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They engineered it so "no" doesn't work, unless you flat out refuse to ever let you kid use the tablet. If you say "yes" to one purchase - a reward because they've done their chores, whatever - then the tablet silently allows them to buy anything they want for the next 30 minutes.

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:52AM (#46471923)

    Too many games are sold for free and/or $0.99 yet to be playable require in app purchases to be at all playable.

    I closely control what games my 9 year old can play and review them before we buy them and its impossible to tell which ones will be worth a damn without blowing another $10 in in-app purchases to make them playable. I reject games with what look like too-many in-app purchases, and he doesn't have the ability to make those purchases.

    Too often I wind up with a very frustrated 9 year old who's upset that he can't win/progress because the game basically requires in-app purchases to be playable for any length of time.

    I don't know if there's a very workable solution, but I think devs should be required to clear notification that "advancement or continued play in this game requires in app purchases; the total cost of this game exceeds its initial purchase price."

    Unfortunately the app-store economics were built around the "99 cent" app and apparently its either not viable to make a decent title at that price point nor is it possible to get the sales volume for $5.99 games that actually offer playability when you're competing against a sea of nominal 99 cent games.

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      These games are targeted at core gamers and not kids. Those brick walls you encounter during game play are intended to be viewed as a challenge and the only way to overcome it is with cash. Hook, line and sink.
      I can see how choosing the right game for your kid can be a challenge. And I'm afraid you will have to carefully choose yourself. Peer pressure at school will be a problem. IMO the freemium model has gotten so bad it needs regulation. It already has become predatory.
  • by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:59AM (#46471951)
    Uhh... How I would manage to make the application differentiate the father of the child, if the child in question has the credentials and passwords of his father? Is not possible yet to perform miracles.
    • Uhh... How I would manage to make the application differentiate the father of the child, if the child in question has the credentials and passwords of his father? Is not possible yet to perform miracles.

      I believe the issue in questions is NOT that the child can just type in the password and buy stuff. As you say, there's nothing Google can do about that outside of forced fingerprint reading.

      BUT that after the parent types in the password to buy the child Angry Birds or whatever... that password is active / cached for another 30 minutes. So when they hand the phone back to the child, he/she can start buying whatever they want for the next half hour. Cartoons, games, music, etc.

      Apple does something simila

  • Hmmmmmm decisions decisions decisions. I look at it this way, both are wrong and at fault.

    If a corporation forces you to have a CC on file at all times and then allows a 30 minute window of massive funds spending, then they own some responsibility in all of this. Companies want income this is an easy way of doing it, and by placing the info in the EULA as a default action is just a "F U" consumer, we'll do what we want because we've got you addicted to our product. A CYA would be a user setting that is e

  • On iTunes I set up an account for my son that has no CC tied to it and is funded with gift cards to prevent exactly this. If he blows $50 because he has no idea what he's doing, then who cares?

    • See, that requires forethought and good parenting, two things that in-app developers depend on you not having.
  • Parents could setup an account and fund it with a gift card from Google. That limits the amount of damage that can be done.

    If Google requires a credit card to create an account (I do not have a Google Play account so I do not know if that is the case); set the default to require a password before charging the card each time. You could allow users to change that to add a grace period but then they knowingly opened themselves up to multiple charges.

    Alternatively, fund the account from one of these prepaid cre

  • have a money limit on how much you can buy without entering your password and have a config item for "allow purchases for X minutes after entering password"

  • A Nintendo DS with a library of used games would have prevented all these problems.

    Kids are not supposed to touch cell phones, according to the phone insurance people I used to work for. Handing your kid a cell phone completely absolves your insurance company of any liability if the kid breaks it. (Now, it's another story if your child steals it from your purse or whatever.)

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