FTC Orders Google To Refund Parents $19 Million For Purchases Kids Made In Apps

By Barry Eitel , Updated Sep 05, 2014 02:43 PM EDT

The Federal Trade Commission ruled yesterday that Google has to pay parents $19 million in compensation for in-app purchases made by their kids. The FTC has been investigating complaints since 2011, and it found that Google made it too easy for children to buy stuff in apps without their parents' approval.

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The ruling is an intriguing development for parenting in the digital age.

"For millions of American families, smartphones and tablets have become a part of their daily lives," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a release. "As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it's vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply, including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize."

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Parents have also lodged civil lawsuits against Google and Android app developers, claiming that apps employed predatory advertising aimed at children to get them to purchase digital items that could be as much as $99. The FTC agreed with parents that Google did not use enough safeguards for these purchases, such as requiring a Google Play Store password to buy items via an app.

In 2012, Google did start requiring passwords in order for such purchases after a series of complaints from parents. However, the FTC notes, each password entry would be good for 30 minutes, allowing greedy little children a whole half hour to rack up charges on their parents' credit cards without their knowledge.

TAG Google, Apps
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