Claremore Daily Progress

Community News Network

March 11, 2014

First Apple, now Google hit with kids' app lawsuit

Last month, 4- and 5-year-old brothers in New York quickly spent $65.95 in real money to buy virtual goods in Marvel's Run Jump Splash game on the family tablet. They were able to rack up the charges without entering a password. And for that, the boys' mother has joined a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday against Google, accusing the company of deceiving consumers about its in-app purchase system, which critics say makes it too easy for kids to spend money on their Android devices.

The case mirrors a class-action suit and Federal Trade Commission action against Apple for similar practices that had consumers decrying hundreds of dollars in surprise and unwanted in-app charges on games targeted toward children. The new suit also begs the question of why Google, seeing Apple's three-year-long public relations and legal headache over the issue, didn't follow Apple in strengthening billing protections for families. In 2012, Apple changed its in-app purchase system so that a password has to be entered every time a user wants to buy virtual currency or goods in an app.

Now, parents want Google to close its 30-minute window for unlimited purchases within an app and are seeking at least $5 million in damages. Google, which operates the Android Google Play app store, declined to comment on the suit.

Lawyers for more than 100 parents in the class-action suit say that by allowing kids to purchase goods online and without a password, Google Play took advantage of young children who won't exercise the same financial judgment as adults. Children may not fully understand that when they buy a virtual gold coin, fruit or crystal to advance levels in a game, their parents will be billed for the charges.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Northern California, alleges that Google designed its in-app purchase system in a way that targets children. Popular apps such as Pet Hotel are free on Google Play and earn money through in-app purchases.

"A parents could enter his or her password to permit a child to download a free gaming App, and then allow the child to download and play the game," plaintiffs said in the suit. "What Google did not tell parents, however, is that their children [were] then able to purchase (virtual) currency for 30 minutes without any supervision, oversight or authorization."

In January, the FTC sought $32.5 million in a settlement with Apple over its in-app purchases. The federal agency would not comment on Google's practices, but European Commission regulators said last month that they would investigate complaints of Google's in-app practices.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the ipad lost its swag?

    July 24, 2014

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • New York to offer free lunch to all middle-school students

    New York's $75 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began last week includes the first step toward offering free lunch for all 1.1 million students, expanding a program now reserved only for the city's poorest children.

    July 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.24.10 AM.png VIDEO: Pilot buys pizzas for storm-delayed travelers

    A Frontier Airlines pilot went above and beyond the call of duty when a recent flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver was diverted to Cheyenne, Wyoming due to bad weather.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why North Korean cheerleaders may soon descend on the South

    When you think of North Korea, "cheerleaders" may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The Hermit Kingdom is perhaps better known for less savory things like gulag-like labor camps and leadership purges.

    July 8, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 11.46.13 AM.png VIDEO: Foiled beach gear theft goes viral

    Video capturing a bizarre confrontation with two women allegedly attempting to steal beach gear on a Florida beach has gone viral.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.40.20 AM.png VIDEO: Sleeping fan suing Yankees, ESPN for $10M

    A fan caught on camera sleeping during a recent game at Yankee Stadium has filed suit against the Yankees and ESPN, claiming he suffered emotional distress when two announcers mocked him on the air.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo