The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said Google has agreed to pay $19 million to consumers to settle a case about children — unbeknownst to their parents — making purchases within programs on Google’s mobile app store.
The commission alleged that Google unfairly billed account holders on its Google Play market by not getting authorization from parents when kids bought things from apps on devices running Google’s Android, the most popular mobile operating system in the world.
Many games offer the purchase of virtual items — paid for with real money — as ways for players to advance their progress during gameplay. The FTC said that buys on Google’s marketplace can range from 99 cents to $200. The commission said the search giant agreed to tweak its billing practices to make sure it gets “express, informed consent” from account holders before someone can make a purchase.
“As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it’s vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, in a statement, “including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize.”
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