Mar, 12 2014

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It was only in January earlier this year that Apple found themselves in hot water after the FTC held the tech giant responsible for kids making in-app purchases without their parents’ consent. According to the complaint, this was made possible thanks to Apple’s now revoked 15-minute window policy, a security feature that made it possible for a user to enter their password once every 15-minutes when making purchases.

It was a case we knew would eventually land itself on Google’s lap and sure enough, here comes another lawsuit. A New York woman is suing Google after alleging that her kids made $65.95 of unauthorized in-app purchases on her account while playing Marve’s Run Jump Smash. Once again, a password window is to blame, only Google’s is a bit more lax than what was once offered by Apple. In Google’s window, users are only required to enter their passwords once every 30 minutes when making purchases.

In the case of Marvel Run Jump Smash, the game costs reasonable $.99 cents, but all offers a variety of in-game content (ranging from $1 – $40). After paying the initial $1 to download the game (and entering her password), the woman’s kids than had a full 30 minutes to jump into the games menus and make additional purchases — no password necessary. It’s a loophole Google doesn’t notify users of at the time of purchase, although they do detail the time window on their Google Play support page.

Marvel Run Jump Smash in-app purchases

According to the paper work, she feels Google is “unfairly profiting” from the hundreds of freemium titles in the Play store that make it possible for children to make “unauthorized charges for in-app game currency without parents’ knowledge.” The case goes onto list games that allow for huge in-app purchases, upwards of $100 — for a single purchase. It’s easy to see how a kid can rack up substantial charges in less than 30 minutes time.

Seems like a pretty big problem for something so easily fixed. Simply prompting the user to enter a password for every purchase would be a bit a nuisance, but it’s a first world problem that seems necessary when in-app purchases are reaching triple digits.

Can’t say we see this going too good for Google. Expect a similar turn out as Apple’s case.

[GigaOM]

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