Mother sues Google after child makes US$65 of in-app purchases

11 Mar 2014

A mother in the US is taking Google to court on behalf of dozens of parents who claim the company has not done enough to prevent their children from making in-app purchases in games.

The woman originally decided to contact the internet giant after she found her five-year-old son had spent US$65.95 on purchasing crystals in the popular game Marvel Run Jump Smash! and has now accused the company of violating a number of child protection laws, amongst others.

While there is usually a password placed on the Google Play store for each purchase, there exists a 30-minute window whereby anyone can make a series of purchases, which has resulted in this case.

The law firm representing the mother’s case released a statement declaring Google is profiting from exploiting insecure payment methods.

“Google has unfairly profited by marketing free or low-cost games to children and by permitting them to easily rack up charges for worthless in-game currency, by failing to incorporate reasonable controls, such as requiring the entry of a password.”

Google has yet to make a statement on the lawsuit but it is expected it should be cautious of any harsh rebuttals, given Apple’s recent case in January, where it agreed to pay parents US$32.5m for in-app purchases made by children.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic