updated 11:37 am EDT, Tue March 11, 2014
Class-action filing mirrors similar $32.5M suit against Apple
A class action lawsuit against Google has been filed, accusing the search company of enabling unauthorized in-app purchases. The suit, filed by law firm Berger & Montague in San Francisco, accuses Google of failing to protect device owners from such purchases, and mirrors an earlier case against Apple over the same matter, one which led to a settlement of $32.5 million.
The new lawsuit stems from a parent of a five-year-old child in New York, reports GigaOM. The son spent $65.95 on "Crystals," an in-game item used in Marvel Run Jump Smash! that was used on an unidentified Samsung Galaxy tablet. While Google Play purchases typically require a password to be entered, both in-app and in the store itself, a password is not required for subsequent purchases in a thirty-minute window, something the suit alleges is "designed to enable children to purchase in-game currency without parental permission and without having to enter a password."
Shanon J. Carson of Berger & Montague claims "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. Google is certainly aware that its primary competitor, Apple, has taken steps to end this unfair practice, and Google should do the same."
Marvel Run Jump Smash!
Apple had a smaller 15-minute password-free window of opportunity, something it has already closed. This has not stopped some families from being caught out, with Apple being pressured to refund over $2,500 in in-app purchases for one child's spending spree last year.
In-app purchases have received considerable attention from law makers in Europe, with both Apple and Google expected to discuss with the European Commission over the issue, with the UK's Office of Fair Trading setting principles for in-game advertising and purchases, rules which developers have until April 1st to abide by.