Meadville Tribune

Breaking News

Lifestyles

March 12, 2014

First Apple, now Google hit with kids' app lawsuit

Last month, 4- and 5-year-old brothers in New York quickly spent $65.95 in real money to buy virtual goods in Marvel's Run Jump Splash game on the family tablet. They were able to rack up the charges without entering a password. And for that, the boys' mother has joined a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday against Google, accusing the company of deceiving consumers about its in-app purchase system, which critics say makes it too easy for kids to spend money on their Android devices.

The case mirrors a class-action suit and Federal Trade Commission action against Apple for similar practices that had consumers decrying hundreds of dollars in surprise and unwanted in-app charges on games targeted toward children. The new suit also begs the question of why Google, seeing Apple's three-year-long public relations and legal headache over the issue, didn't follow Apple in strengthening billing protections for families. In 2012, Apple changed its in-app purchase system so that a password has to be entered every time a user wants to buy virtual currency or goods in an app.

Now, parents want Google to close its 30-minute window for unlimited purchases within an app and are seeking at least $5 million in damages. Google, which operates the Android Google Play app store, declined to comment on the suit.

Lawyers for more than 100 parents in the class-action suit say that by allowing kids to purchase goods online and without a password, Google Play took advantage of young children who won't exercise the same financial judgment as adults. Children may not fully understand that when they buy a virtual gold coin, fruit or crystal to advance levels in a game, their parents will be billed for the charges.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Northern California, alleges that Google designed its in-app purchase system in a way that targets children. Popular apps such as Pet Hotel are free on Google Play and earn money through in-app purchases.

"A parents could enter his or her password to permit a child to download a free gaming App, and then allow the child to download and play the game," plaintiffs said in the suit. "What Google did not tell parents, however, is that their children [were] then able to purchase (virtual) currency for 30 minutes without any supervision, oversight or authorization."

In January, the FTC sought $32.5 million in a settlement with Apple over its in-app purchases. The federal agency would not comment on Google's practices, but European Commission regulators said last month that they would investigate complaints of Google's in-app practices.

1
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Are America's biggest alcohol brands targeting the country's underage youth?

    Underage drinkers - those between the ages of 18 and 20, most specifically - are more heavily exposed to printed alcohol advertisements than any other age group, according to a new study. And it's America's biggest booze companies that could be to blame.

    July 10, 2014

  • How professors are using Facebook to teach

    Technology is an established part of the lives of students. But university lecturers are becoming increasingly frustrated at how they must compete with tablets and laptops for students' attention in the lecture hall.

    July 10, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 10, 2014

  • Careful planning is the key to a successful Mother’s Day visit

    Are you planning to visit your mom at a senior living residence for Mother’s Day? Are you wondering what you should do or what you should bring? Our experience may provide you with some valuable insight.

    May 10, 2014

  • Which foods are the worst for the environment?

    As with most arguments about our food supply, though, it's not that simple. Although beef is always climatically costly, pork or chicken can be a better choice than broccoli, calorie for calorie.

    March 12, 2014

  • Old Spice attracting women in gender-bending win for P&G

    Young women are embracing Old Spice - long known as the brand dad kept in the medicine cabinet - even as P&G's marketing continues to focus on their male peers.

    March 12, 2014

  • news_planesearch.jpg Missing Malaysian jetliner confuses a world that's online 24/7

    The disappearance five days ago of a Malaysian Airline Systems Bhd. aircraft with 239 people on board is confounding search teams and a global audience used to around-the-clock connectivity and real-time updates.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_nycexplosion.jpg VIDEO: Aftermath of NYC building collapse

    Footage from the New York Daily News shows firefighters responding to a building collapse at East 116th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem. At least 11 minor injuries had been reported late Wednesday morning.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_google.jpg First Apple, now Google hit with kids' app lawsuit

    Last month, 4- and 5-year-old brothers in New York quickly spent $65.95 in real money to buy virtual goods in Marvel's Run Jump Splash game on the family tablet. They were able to rack up the charges without entering a password. And for that, the boys' mother has joined a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday against Google, accusing the company of deceiving consumers about its in-app purchase system, which critics say makes it too easy for kids to spend money on their Android devices.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

Business Marquee
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks