recommended reading

Feds Crack Down on Google Over Kids' App Spending

Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock.com

Google is the latest company to face federal charges for failing to prevent children from racking up big bills for their parents.

The company agreed Thursday to refund at least $19 million to consumers to settle a case with the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the agency, Google unfairly billed consumers whose children made unauthorized purchases using mobile apps downloaded from the Google Play store. The in-app purchases for virtual items could range from 99 cents to $200. Google failed to properly obtain the consent of the account holder before completing the purchases, the FTC said.

In-app purchases are a relatively new feature, but have become a big source of revenue. Forcing companies to step up protections against unwanted purchases has been a major focus for the FTC this year. Apple already agreed to a $32.5 million settlement with the FTC, while Amazon plans to fight the charges in court.

"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," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.

According to the complaint, Google allowed users to make in-app purchases without any password authorization in 2011. In 2012, Google introduced a pop-up password window, the FTC said, but it did not include information about the actual purchase.

Google employees internally referred to the children's purchases as "friendly fraud" and "family fraud," the FTC discovered.

In a statement, Google said it has already made changes to prevent similar problems in the future.

"We're glad to put this matter behind us so we can focus on creating more ways for people to enjoy all the entertainment they love," the company said.

Apple, which settled its case with the FTC in January, reportedly egged on the FTC to sue Google. According to Politico, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell sent an email to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, saying a news article about unauthorized purchases on Google Android devices "might be of some interest."

(Image via Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Social Media Takeover

Qatar News Agency Says Hackers Published Fake Stories

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.