Mother sues Google after her son purchased $65 worth of game currency

March 11, 2014
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Back in February of last year, Apple found itself caught up in lawsuit that centered around kids racking up bills by buying in-app purchases. The center of the issue was that it was too easy for kids to download in-app purchases and that Apple needed to do a better job of restricting in-app purchases without special authorization. Well, here we go again.

A woman by the name of Ilana Imber-Gluck has now filed a lawsuit with a court in northern California after her 5-year old boy spent $65.95 on in-app purchases for Marvel Run Jump Smash. The lawsuit is not just for herself but for other parents that have found themselves in similar circumstances.

So what’s the deal here? By default, Google requires you to enter a password in order to grab in-app purchases, but here’s the rub: apparently there is a 30-minute window after download an app where you don’t need to supply a password in order to grab some in-app purchases, and that’s where things apparently went bad in this particular case.

In short, the point of the lawsuit is to force Google to remove the 30-minute window altogether and likely to pay back in-app purchase costs in a manner similar to Apple’s settlement, which saw tons of iTunes credit given out to affected parents.

Should Google be held accountable?

It’s important to realize that while the 30-minute window does in fact exist, it can be easily removed by going into the Play Store’s setting and checking the option “use password to restrict purchases”. With this in place, you’ll always need to provide a password to make any kind of purchase, in-app ones included.

Now I realize that not all parents are techies like myself, but I have a 4-year old that has access to a tablet (in moderation) and have never ran into any problems. Why? Because I made sure I did my homework and appropriately locked down my device. You would think that ensuring your kids can’t make unauthorized purchases would be one of the first things even non-techies look into before handing over their mobile devices to their little ones.

What do you think, should Google have already turned the window off by default, or should it be up to the parents to properly ensure that their devices are protected from accidental purchases?

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