Google entered into a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission last week to resolve allegations that it unlawfully billed consumers for unauthorized charges incurred by children using its mobile apps.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the unauthorized charges incurred by children using mobile apps downloaded from the Google Play app store for use on Android mobile devices constituted “unfair” commercial practices in violation of the FTC Act. Many consumers reported hundreds of dollars of such unauthorized charges, according to the complaint.
Under the terms of the settlement, Google has agreed to pay a minimum of $19 million in refunds to consumers who were unlawfully billed since 2011. Google has also agreed to modify its billing practices to ensure that it obtains express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps.
Google’s settlement marks the FTC’s third case concerning unauthorized in-app charges by children. In January, Apple agreed to refund consumers a minimum of $32.5 million in a settlement reached with the FTC to resolve similar violations. Apple also agreed to modify its billing practices to ensure that it obtains express, informed consent for in-app charges.
Additionally, the FTC in July filed a complaint against Amazon, similarly seeking full refunds for consumers and an order requiring informed consent for in-app charges. For its part, Amazon said it intends to contest the charges. In a letter to the agency in July, the company’s legal counsel wrote that its policies are well-promoted and that refund requests were diligently handled.
Look for in-depth coverage on these enforcement actions in an upcoming issue of Compliance Week.