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Google faces lawsuit over in-app purchases

Google is facing a lawsuit over accidental in-app purchases made by children in the US.

A class action lawsuit has been filed by a group of Californian parents affected by the issue, following their children making unauthorised purchases via in-app payments.

Similar to the lawsuits Apple suffered last year after children racked up huge spending sums in the App Store without having to re-enter a password, Google is now facing similar legal battles.

The issue is nearly identical to that originally found with the iOS App Store. Once a password has been entered to purchase and/or download a game or purchasing in-app content, Google allows further purchases to be made on that device for up to 30 minutes without re-entering the password.

“Google has unfairly profited by marketing free or low-cost games to children and by permitting them to easily rack up charges for worthless in-game currency, by failing to incorporate reasonable controls such as simply requiring the entry of a password,” said Shanon Carson of Berger & Montague, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff.

“Google is certainly aware that its primary competitor, Apple, has taken steps to end this unfair practice so that its users must enter their password to make all in-app purchases.”

Apple had to fork out a $32.5 million (£19.5 million) settlement to the Federal Trade Commission in January 2014 over very similar allegations, as well as a private class action lawsuit Apple settled separately with its customers.

Unlike Google, Apple changed its policies so that users have to enter their password every timethey wish to purchase in-app content. Due to this, Google is suffering the same lawsuit fate as Apple.

“This practice is widespread, has been condemned by the Federal Trade Commission and is being investigated by the European Union’s consumer protection officials,” said plaintiff representative Edwin Kilpela  Jr. of Del Sole Cavanaugh Stroyd.

“A company of Google’s size and sophistication either is or should be aware that it is permitting unauthorised charges by minor children. We look forward to vindicating the rights of consumers victimised by Google’s policies in this regard.”

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