South Korean court orders Google to refund half of in-app purchase

A South Korean court ruled Friday that Google is “half-responsible” for in-app purchases made by a child without parents’ authorization.

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Suwon District Court ordered Google to refund $820, half of the in-app purchases made by a 10-year-old boy without his parents’ consent, South Korean media Yonhap News reported.
“The defendant has a duty to prevent consumers’ payment information not to be abused. It has to take extra attention when names of an account user and a card holder is different and especially involving an under-age user,” the court statement read, according to Yonhap News.

A 10-year-old boy made unauthorized 25 in-app purchases for a mobile game, worth about $ 1,630. He was able to make multiple purchases, using payment information put in by his parent earlier for buying their son mobile game items as a gift in 2015.

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Google’s In-app purchase enables consumers to make purchases on mobile platforms without having to put in payment information for each transaction after the first charge.

The boy’s parents requested refunds to Google. Google denied their request and they decided to bring it to a court, according to a lawyer.

“Google rejected the refund request and later changed their words to offer a refund when we filed a suit. Usually, consumers don’t file a lawsuit for this kind of case, involving a relatively smaller amount of damage. The parents decided not to drop the case as they saw Google is also responsible for this,” said lawyer Lee Sang-wha, representing the parents, according to the report.

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The court saw that both parents and Google are responsible for the child’s in-app purchases that required no parental consent and enabling transactions possible without manually entering payment information.

The judge said that the parents also failed to monitor their son’s mobile purchases and to educate him on mobile service usage.

ByWooyoung Lee