A mother of two
young boys has sued Google for allegedly allowing her children to ring up debit card charges within the Marvel children's app “Run Jump Smash.”
Ilana Imber-Gluck, a New York
resident, alleges that she downloaded the 99-cent app to a Samsung Galaxy tablet last month. Within 30 minutes, her 4-year-old or 5-year-old son purchased $65.95 worth of in-game currency, she says in
her complaint, which was filed on Friday in the Northern District of California.
She alleges that Google allows parents to purchase cheap apps for their children, but fails to inform the
parents that their kids will be able to automatically purchase in-game currency for a period of 30 minutes.
“Google offers many games that use the same bait-and-switch business
scheme as Run Jump Smash,” she alleges. “Google entices the child with a free or inexpensive (e.g., $0.99) download of a gaming platform that then offers the sale of irresistible game
currency in order to enjoy the game as it was designed to be 'played.'”
She is seeking to bring the case as a class-action on behalf of all parents whose children have made in-app
purchases. Among other items, she is asking for a ruling that any in-app purchases by children are voidable by their parents.
“The targeting of children by Google and inducing them to
purchase, without the knowledge or authorization of their parents, millions of dollars of Game Currency is unlawful exploitation in the extreme,” she says in her lawsuit.
recently faced a class-action lawsuit as well as Federal Trade Commission charges over a similar practice. Although Apple's iTunes store requests that an account holder enter a password before making
an initial in-app purchase, the company often saves that password for at least 15 minutes -- during which time children were able to continue to rack up charges, according to the FTC's complaint.
Apple settled the FTC charges by agreeing to provide refunds to parents of at least $32.5 million. The company also promised that in the future, it will require people to explicitly authorize
charges for in-app purchases.