recommended reading

Feds Crack Down on Google Over Kids' App Spending

Goran Bogicevic/

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/

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Software vulnerability

Hundreds of Thousands of Job Seekers' Information May Have Been Compromised by Hackers

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

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

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


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