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Consumer Reports complains about Google Play Store's in-app policies

Posted: , posted by Alan F.

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Consumer Reports complains about Google Play Store's in-app policies
On Wednesday, we told you that Apple was being ordered by the FTC to pay $32.5 million to the parents of children who unknowingly spent real money making in-app purchases. Part of Apple's problem is that in-app purchases can be made without a password for a full 15 minutes after an app is downloaded. Some kids were able to make their purchases thanks to that opening. One 5 year old ran up a $2500 tab on his parents' iPad.

According to Consumer Reports, Google Play has an even longer opening. For a good half hour after an app is downloaded, in-app purchases can be made without requiring a password. While the FTC investigation of the App Store was kicked off by parents complaining, it is not known if similar complaints have been made against the Google Play Store. The commission would not even confirm if it was investigating Google Play at this time.

Consumer Reports did run a test on one app involved in the complaints against Apple, the Tap Pet Hotel game from Pocket Gems. The publication downloaded the app for free on an Android tablet from the Google Play Store. After enabling the Google Play Store's password protection feature, one 99 cent in-app purchase was arranged for. After that purchase was made, over the next half hour, Consumer Reports was able to make seven more in-app purchases for 99 cents each, with authorization.

In response to the settlement with the FTC, Apple will change its rules at the end of March. Before charging someone for an in-app purchase, Apple will need to obtain "express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps." The new restriction comes after Apple added a section to the App Store last year, that explains exactly what an in-app purchase is. Apple also explained how to use parental controls to prevent unwanted charges from taking place.

It might behoove the powers that be at Google to re-examine its current policy toward in-app purchases. Surely Google does not want to find itself in the same hot water as Apple was in.

Consumer Reports had authorized only one in-app purchase when testing Tap Pet Hotel

source: ConsumerReports via SlashGear

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