Lax Android in-app policies may put Google on FTC’s radar

Google seems to have found itself in the same hot water as Apple was recently in. The Cupertino-based company recently agreed to refund at least $32.5 million to angry parents whose children had made purchases at the iTunes App Store without their consent, as per an FTC order.

The problem lies with in-app purchases at the iTunes App Store where a single in-app purchase allows kids to make unlimited purchases for 15 minutes without seeking further permission from their parents.

The FTC received a complaint against the company reporting that an Apple’s user daughter spent as much as $2,600 in the Tap Pet Hotel game from Pocket Gems.

“Under the terms of the settlement with the FTC, Apple also will be required to change its billing practices to ensure that it has obtained express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps,” read the announcement from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

“This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you’re doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply. You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize,” FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.

And now, the search giant could get FTC attention for its lax Android in-app purchase rules in the Google Play store.

Google Play goes a step ahead of Apple in offering unsupervised kids a bigger window to shop unfettered by parental oversight. Consumer Reports discovered that Google grants a full 30 minutes to make purchases at the App store when no additional authorisation is required (after obviously making one in-app purchase requiring a password).

It is important that Google now re-examines its current policy toward in-app purchases to provide its customers with even more control over their Google Play purchases. Better late than never, right?

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