Google Pays Out $19m to US Parents Over Unauthorised In-app Purchases

Apps TilingGoogle has agreed to refund upwards of $19m (£11.7m) to parents of children who were able to make unauthorised in-app purchases via Google Play.

This is the result of settling a US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint which alleged that, since 2011, Google has violated the FTC prohibition on unfair commercial practices by billing consumers as much as hundreds of dollars for purchases made by unaware children without requiring verification. Even when Google altered its policy to require password entry for in-app purchases, the FTC maintains that consumers were not fully informed about the conditions, including the fact that this was followed by a 30-minute window in which no password was required to make further purchases.

Google has also agreed to modify its billing practices to ensure that it obtains informed consent from consumers before charging them for in-apps items in future.

For millions of American families, smartphones and tablets have become a part of their daily lives,” said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “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.”

Apple agreed to a similar settlement back in January, paying out a minimum of $32.5m, and in June the FTC filed another complaint against Amazon for its own app store.