Google addresses in-app purchase concerns

Google addresses in-app purchase concerns

19 MAR 2014

Google tightened up the process for making in-app purchases in apps downloaded from Google Play, following the filing of a class action related to children making unauthorised purchases.

The updated Play Store now requires a password to be entered every time an in-app purchase is made. Android Police spotted the feature – which can be turned on and off by parents — as part of the latest update to the portal.

One of the issues flagged by the class action filed against Google on behalf of parents last week is that once users have entered a password to make an in-app purchase, additional transactions can be carried out over the following 30 minutes without the need to re-enter the password.

The action asserted that this 30 minute window “is designed to enable children to purchase in-game currency without parental permission and without having to enter a password”.

Apple settled a private class action lawsuit related to a similar issue in October 2013 and also reached a settlement in January with the Federal Trade Commission to pay $32.5 million to parents who had lost money as a result of their children making in-app purchases without their consent.

The iPhone maker introduced a Kids category in the App Store in September last year to better cater for younger consumers, following concern about the use of apps by children. It also added new rules to its iOS developer guidelines in preparation for the new category.

Apple last week added a new alert that appears after an in-app purchase has been made, warning that additional purchases can be made without re-entering the password for the next 15 minutes.

Outside of the US, the UK Office of Fair Trading recently published principles for the mobile app industry to adhere to when developing apps for children, while the European Commission said it would raise consumer concerns with the mobile app industry to help the app economy develop its full potential.


Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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