The Edmond Sun

Business

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
Business
  • UCO campus 3.jpg University of Central Oklahoma recognized as having friendly work environment

    The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Central Oklahoma as one of the “2014 Great Colleges to Work For.” Central is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the Honor Roll for being cited most often among all the recognition categories.          
    Central joins Duke, Baylor and Notre Dame on the list of the 10 universities named to the large institution honor roll.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council approves funds toward ADA update

    City Council members have approved a $398,800 professional services contract with Accessology, a McKinney, Texas, firm, to establish an Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan for the city.
    Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. It includes access to government facilities, programs and events and relevant policy changes.
    Accessology was selected out of a pool of five finalists by a five-member committee to create Edmond’s plan. The firm will partner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, a design consulting firm located in North Carolina.
    Edmond’s last ADA transition plan was created in 1992.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel approves jail services agreement

    City Council members have approved renewal of the city’s jail services agreement with Oklahoma County for prisoners incarcerated at the county jail on city charges.
    The current annual agreement expired June 30. It provides the feeding, care, housing and upkeep of said prisoners. Edmond uses the county jail when the city jail is at capacity.
    The sheriff’s office proposed a slight increase from $46.25 to a $46.50 daily rate per prisoner. City staff said the current agreement is working satisfactorily and believe the proposed rate is reasonable. The new agreement took effect July 1. The city can hold prisoners in its current jail  up to 10 days; a new jail with 10 male and five female cells will be available inside the new Public Safety Center next year when the facility opens.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel establishes 911 phone rate

    City Council members have established the rate for the 911 emergency phone service fee for calendar year 2015
    Council members set the rate at 3 percent of the recurring charges as designated by the tariff for exchange telephone service or its equivalent within Edmond beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
    Fees collected by wireless and voice over Internet protocol companies are established under a separate statute. To continue collection of the locally authorized service fee on landline phone bills, local governments must approve a resolution on an annual basis to set the actual fee.
    Governments must also through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments notify the appropriate incumbent local exchange carrier and competitive local exchange carrier phone companies by Sept. 1, 2015.
    ACOG recommended for calendar year 2015 to maintain service fees at their current level of 3 percent.

    July 21, 2014

  • Council approves $2.5M extra for utility

    City Council members have approved the transfer of a $2.5 million appropriation for Edmond Electric.
    The action was needed due to higher natural gas prices. Those increased prices caused wholesale electric purchase costs to exceed the department’s budget estimates for Fiscal Year 2013-14. To cover the increased costs, a transfer of funds from the “Transfers” category to the “Other Services and Charges” category was necessary.
    It will maintain state law requirements and not increase Edmond Electric’s budget.
    The action occurred during Monday’s meeting and was approved unanimously.

    July 21, 2014

  • The Escape Edmond entrepreneurs sleuth their way to success

    Tripadvisor.com led Andrew Gipson to an industrial complex outside of Dublin, Ireland, about a year ago. The recent University of Central Oklahoma graduate was in the midst of an extended stay in Australia and the United Kingdom when he walked through the doors of XIT Live Escape Adventure Game. According to Tripdadvisor, it was the top attraction in Ireland. He had to go.
    An hour later, Gipson, 24, exited the facility inspired.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • McAlister’s Deli sets ‘Free Tea Day’ for July 24

    McAlister’s Deli, a leading fast casual restaurant, will celebrate its sixth annual Free Tea Day on July 24.

    July 19, 2014

  • Steffen and Farrow Steffen and Farrow celebrates 40th anniversary

    Steffen and Farrow Orthodontics recently had a ribbon cutting at its Edmond location, 1601 S. Boulevard, to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local resident wins free fuel from Cenex

    A local resident has received a special thank you for his contributions to the community. Ronald Balderson of Edmond, was selected to receive free fuel from Tanks of Thanks, a program that rewards people who do good deeds to help make their community just a little bit better.

    July 19, 2014

  • Former mayor encourages Leadership Edmond participation

    Leadership Edmond will commence its 30th class with a two-day overnight retreat on Aug. 25-26.

    July 19, 2014

Stocks