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Google Sued Over Children's In-App Android Purchases

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.

Google 321

jfruh writes "Android apps sold through the Google Play app store require the user to enter their username and password before making an in-app purchase — but once they've done that, they can continue to do so for half an hour without re-authenticating. Now a lawsuit is claiming this loophole allows children to run up in-app purchases on their parents' credit cards, 'causing Google to pocket millions of dollars.'"

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Please.... (5, Funny)

Apotekaren (904220) | about 8 months ago | (#46471543)

For once, won't someone think of the PARENTS?

Re:Please.... (-1, Troll)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 8 months ago | (#46471581)

I don't see how parents have anything to do with this.

Google made a system by which a child, under no supervision whatsoever, can spend their parent's money by simply asking them to introduce the password in a way that they'll be able to respond without paying any attention.

How can you construe that situation as having anything to do with the kid's parents is beyond my comprehension.

Re:Please.... (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 8 months ago | (#46471589)

Wallet manufacturers must be quaking in their boots.

Re:Please.... (5, Insightful)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 8 months ago | (#46471591)

"Hey mom/dad, enter your password"

A: "Sure"
B: "Why?"

Which sounds more responsible?

Re:Please.... (4, Insightful)

richy freeway (623503) | about 8 months ago | (#46471603)

The point is that after they have entered their password, the child has 30 minutes of unfettered purchasing power and there is NO warning of this at all.

Re:Please.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471627)

I think a bigger question is what kind of kids steal from their parents?
If I wanted I could have ordered pay per view movies from the time I was 12 without my parents permission, or ordered shit on amazon with 1 click.
This is quite simply a parenting and trust issue, rather than a tech issue.

Re:Please.... (5, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about 8 months ago | (#46471741)

Kids are not supposed to know the full range of consequences of their actions, that is why we call them children and treat them in a certain way.

First of all, the in-app purchasing is specifically designed to not warn you when a purchase is made, and to make the purchases as subtle as possible. Even if that were not the case, you'd have to buy the app or whatever and wait 30 minutes before handing the device back to your child to be safe, yet there is currently no indication that the timer is even running or when it expires - not one that is easily accessible. And the mere fact that Google expects you to sit around with your device for 30 minutes, waiting for a timer to expire is unreasonable in the extreme.

This is absolutely a tech issue, as well as an ethics issue. Google likes the easy money, and their responses to parents who have complained about it have been less than stellar. Google is in a position to both build and destroy trust in consumer computing, on behalf of not only themselves, but everyone who develops for their devices and similar devices. The position Google has taken on this issue is the money-grab-and-run short term approach, and they've been pointing at the app developers for the fix. This is unreasonable, and doesn't actually fix the broken eco-system that is Android apps. The good guys will continue to be the good guys and you're giving a free pass to the rotten apples. Couple this with the fact that it is almost impossible to tell good from bad on Android until you get burned, and you have a major issue going forward, and Google is well on its way to forcing legislation on this issue. Legislation that I bet Google is going to piss and moan over when it passes, even though they, and fuckwits like them, were the ones to cause it.

Short story even shorter: fix the fucking issue and get on with it already. The fix is so simple it would be hilarious if it wasn't such a fucking money-grab from a supposedly not evil corporation. Make purchasing passwords one time only, or allow for restrictions on where and when the purchasing can be made.

Re:Please.... (3, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 8 months ago | (#46471793)

First of all, the in-app purchasing is specifically designed to not warn you when a purchase is made, and to make the purchases as subtle as possible.

Just yesterday there was news elsewhere that with iOS 7.1 (which allows a 15 minute period without password entry), when you enter your password now, a dialog will appear telling you about it, with an OK button and a button that takes you to "Settings" where you can turn that feature off.

Re:Please.... (-1, Flamebait)

blackicye (760472) | about 8 months ago | (#46471847)

If your kids do not know the consequences of their actions, you do _NOT_ hand them any devices capable of generating credit card charges, it's not rocket science.

Re:Please.... (2)

Cenan (1892902) | about 8 months ago | (#46471935)

Yeah, that is the state of affairs now. The recommended action is to just not give the device to a child, but are we really supposed to accept this? How does that fit with all the other noble goals of these corporations, like furthering technological awareness. The problem isn't so much this isolated issue, but that Google and their ilk is zig-zagging all over the place, depending on where the profits lie.

If they're actually designing devices with the implied understanding that they are not child safe, why are there so many Google approved apps in the Store targeted at children? They're designing devices and software for adults but are pushing for the adults to hand these unsafe devices to their children, in the hopes that the parent won't complain when the child one-clicks the trust fund away into Google's coffers. Google would also like every child in school to use one of their devices, or one running their software, yet they're not safe for children?

Picking Google's motives apart is the "not rocket science" part of all this, yet a site full of nerds can't seem to grasp that.

Re:Please.... (0)

arth1 (260657) | about 8 months ago | (#46472073)

The recommended action is to just not give the device to a child,

Or not entering your password the first time for an app purchase.
Or only let a child who can't be trusted to do something on his own do it supervised. As in really supervised. The parent paying attention.

I think the real problem is that parents want to use a phone or tablet as a pacifier, so they don't have to parent the tykes.

Re:Please.... (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 8 months ago | (#46471853)

Kids are not supposed to know the full range of consequences of their actions

Not supposed to? As in, it would be a bad thing if they did?

Also, if we treat people who don't know the full range of consequences of their actions in a certain way, why aren't most adults--who are merely overgrown children--treated that way?

Re:Please.... (1)

Cenan (1892902) | about 8 months ago | (#46472009)

Also, if we treat people who don't know the full range of consequences of their actions in a certain way, why aren't most adults--who are merely overgrown children--treated that way?

Indeed, why not? Because money has the same value regardless who forks it over. Making in-app purchasing seamless, subtle and easy just means taking it from the mentally impaired or small children is also much easier, as well as shafting regular people. And Google among others have no qualms over doing it, and subsequently pointing at page 27 of their ToS to whisk away their responsibility. This doesn't really fit with their "don't be evil" motto at all, but who gives a fuck as long as at least a portion of users are buying the hype and stuffing the coffers?

They're clearly very good at designing a user experience when it suits their needs, until there is more profit to be had by hiding away subtle things like auto-logged-in-for-30-minutes. All done in the name of "oh, but we thought users would be annoyed at logging in repeatedly, and we took a page out of Apple's playbook and made the decision for everyone, unchangeable - for your own protection of course".

Re:Please.... (0)

lucm (889690) | about 8 months ago | (#46471771)

An Anonymous Coward talking about trust issues... interesting.

This being said, if you were able to order PPV or use Amazon 1 Click at 12 years old, then you are still a kid and obviously have only a theoretical understanding of parenting. Let's wait a few years and see when you get kids of your own if you still think that things are that easy for parents.

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46472005)

Why would that mean I'm still a kid? amazon has been around since 1995. I'm almost 30 now.
PPV has been around for a long time too.
Also, I think parents should be able to trust their kids to a certain extent. I don't think that I should trust a bunch of strangers on the internet with my identity.

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46472045)

You obviously don't have kids. My now 4 year old loves playing games (learning or entertainment games) on my phone or the Android tablet. Now he's smart enough to know to hit the Red X, but occasionally when there's ads for other games that look cool for him he'll click and install...
Also, I'm sure there's other kids who just see "You can't play any more right now unless you click here" and click there just because. Now if the parents allow the in-app purchase once, as mentioned above and in the summary, the kid can go wild for the next half hour and may not even realize the ramifications of their actions. After all, they're kids for f's sake

Re:Please.... (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 8 months ago | (#46472151)

what if the cable VOD system needed a pin / buy screen with price of $0 for the free VOD stuff??? VS just need the pin / buy screen for the PPV stuff?

Re:Please.... (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46471651)

Yes, there is. it is right there in the agreement that YOU SHOULD HAVE READ when you first use the store. you clicked "i agree"

What? you did not read that? not our problem.

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471765)

Yes, there is. it is right there in the agreement that YOU SHOULD HAVE READ when you first use the store. you clicked "i agree"

What? you did not read that? not our problem.

What? you did not read that? not our problem.

Actually it is. In places that allows for "one-click-contracts" the agreement follows contract laws that often requires both participants to verify that the other have fully understood the contract, something Google haven't done in this case.
If places that doesn't allow contracts like that Google have no right to transfer the money.

Yes, it is impractical and costly to set up a video conference every time you want to establish a contract with someone over the Internet and it would reduce Google customer base and profits quite significantly. Not our problem, society doesn't have to ensure that private companies can make a profit in any way they see fit.

Re:Please.... (2)

richy freeway (623503) | about 8 months ago | (#46471807)

Where? Have had a look and I cant find anything about a 30 minute window.

Re: Please.... (1)

Martyn Hare (3546791) | about 8 months ago | (#46471685)

Children aren't authorised to use Google Wallet in the first place. If a parent wants to lie about who is using the phone, consequences are deserved. You need to be 18 or older to link a credit/debit card, justices have already said if it's impossible to legitimately purchase a digital product that liability for copyright infringement is limited; so why not get the APK from Aptoide instead and not use in-game purchases?

Re:Please.... (2)

xeoron (639412) | about 8 months ago | (#46471801)

They would avoid this problem if they had multi-accounts setup on their device with parental controls set locking all programs except the ones they approve of for the kids account.

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471889)

The point is that after they have entered their password, the child has 30 minutes of unfettered purchasing power and there is NO warning of this at all.

Speaking of warnings, did you know that if the device happens to be a cell phone with the screen unlocked, that same child is able to call a random phone number. Maybe even a long distance one. Perhaps they'll reach a nice pedophile on the other end. Or perhaps they'll click on a link that opens a browser...did you know (sssh, don't tell anyone) that there's porn on the internet? Yeah, seriously. And a LOT of it.

Seems to me we overlook some of the more blatant concerns with a child being handed a smartphone these days. I suppose morals don't have a price tag but google in-app purchases certainly do, and we must put a stop to that.

Re:Please.... (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 8 months ago | (#46472119)

The point is that after they have entered their password, the child has 30 minutes of unfettered purchasing power and there is NO warning of this at all.

No warning sign... except for entering the password...

Am I missing something, or are you trying to be funny?

Re:Please.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471655)

Child: "Hey mom/dad, can you buy this 50c key to unlock the next part of the game?"
Parent: "OK, I'll authorise this and only this payment"
Google: I'll just go and pretend you authorised unlimited $100 payments for the next half an hour. Oops, did I say that out loud? No, I didn't say anything at all! Mwahahahahaha!

Re:Please.... (2)

murdocj (543661) | about 8 months ago | (#46471817)

"I want to buy a horse in this game"
"How much does it cost?"
  "$1.50"
"OK" ... puts in password....
kid buys horse. Then something else pops up that says "would you like fancy clothes" and the kid goes for that as well. etc.

Who is being irresponsible here? The parent? Or Google? How tough would it be to have a setting that EACH in-app purchase needs a password, OR in-app purchases are unlocked for X minutes?

Re:Please.... (1, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#46472127)

If the parent can't trust the kid not to make charges on their account, they shouldn't be giving the device to the child. I have a 6 and a 7 year old. Both of them are smart enough to know how to avoid in-app transactions, and know that they aren't allowed to make them. If you can't trust your kids, get them a Nintendo DS, or some other gaming system.

Also, isn't it possible to have a Google Play account without a credit card? Don't they have gift cards you can load on for those without credit cards? If you are required a credit card, You could just get a Visa/Mastercard Gift Card, and use that, which limits your liability to the amount pre-loaded on the card.

Re:Please.... (4, Insightful)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 8 months ago | (#46471605)

No, Google designed a system that would be a compromise between security and usability since some people would obviously go bat shit if they had to enter their password every time.

That a parent gave this to their child and did not properly supervise them is the parents fault.

Although it would indeed be nice if the parents could indeed have a better monitoring service for kids phones.

Re:Please.... (1, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about 8 months ago | (#46471755)

If Google didn't want children to use their devices, why are they approving apps specifically targeted at children? This is a money-grab from Google, pure and simple.

Re:Please.... (0)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 8 months ago | (#46471787)

If Google didn't want children to use their devices, why are they approving apps specifically targeted at children? This is a money-grab from Google, pure and simple.

How does that saying go again? Never ascribe malice to that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Re:Please.... (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about 8 months ago | (#46471973)

And of course it's just a coincidence that Google's "incompetence" turned out to be profitable for them.

Re:Please.... (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 8 months ago | (#46472159)

That's really a big leap.

Such a conspiracy would require really high level thinking on Google's point.

More likely, it's just something not thought through.

Re:Please.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471825)

What a crock of shit. Apple had the same problem two years ago, it was all over the media, and they fixed it. Turned out 30 minutes was the wrong compromise, and you need a config item for this.

So Google just don't read the media, I guess? That's how they were completely unaware that this system causes issues?

Bullshit.

Re:Please.... (1)

sslayer (968948) | about 8 months ago | (#46471871)

Google is at fault here. How hard is to make Android be multiuser? This is technology that has been available in Linux since it exists, yet Google decided that each family member is going to have his own device. Now I can't share my tablet with my wife because maybe she can see my appointment to her surprise party.

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471897)

Android is multi user. Only on tablets though.
So when I lend my tablet to my kids they have their own accounts with only the apps I whitelisted and they can't make a purchase.
When I need to lend them my phone it's really not as nice and I can tell you that if I did put in my password the kids would purchase a lot from Minion rush and what not in the following 30 minutes...

Re:Please.... (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 8 months ago | (#46471887)

No, Google designed a system that would be a compromise between security and usability since some people would obviously go bat shit if they had to enter their password every time.

No -- you're setting up a false dichotomy. Google could have easily put a little check box or something in the password dialog saying "Remember password to authorize ALL purchases for the next 30 minutes?" kinda like the "keep me logged in" box on webmail accounts or something. That would solve your problem AND make very clear what was happening to users.

After the whole Apple nonsense regarding the exact same issue, that would be at least a minimal attempt to clarify things to users.

That a parent gave this to their child and did not properly supervise them is the parents fault.

That's true. But, in fairness, I'm having trouble thinking of other toys for kids where you can say "Here kid - play this game with the Smurfs," and 30 minutes later accumulate a $300 bill for Smurfberries or whatever.

The parents should have paid closer attention, but the normal assumption when you buy a toy at the toy store is that it won't suck hundreds of dollars from your wallet AFTER you buy it for your kid. Many kids apps today are deliberately designed to exploit the cluelessness of parents and kids to make money this exact way.

Re:Please.... (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 8 months ago | (#46472031)

There is a lot of missing the point on this thread. This problem goes down to the core of the social and psychological problems and tradeoffs that happen in GUI and application design, web design, and any other system that is accessed by members of the general public.

Somewhere there is a manager yelling at a designer because "it's hard to use" because there were complaints from users that they "just put in there password" and "why should I do that again?" when they were making a series of purchases. So the designer incorporated a 30 minute time out or grace period to get around the whining. Sometimes there is no absolute sweet spot... there is going to be whining about the design either way. They probably should incorporate a variable (as someone else on this thread mentioned) so the user has control and Google can say that the user has the power to make a choice.

People are thinking this is deliberate by Google? Bah. Google isn't 100% non-evil, but I don't buy that. They still aren't doing their design in like Microsoft does, in their Marketing department.

Re:Please.... (0, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46471645)

"I don't see how parents have anything to do with this."

I do, I see very low IQ parents causing the problem. Giving a $300 easily broken glass device to a toddler? Not bothering to learn that it stays logged in for a short time afterwards for purchases?

I cant break the law and claim ignorance.... The judge needs to smack these "parents" with clue by fours. If you are too dumb to use the technology, you should not have the technology.

Re:Please.... (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 8 months ago | (#46471739)

The tablets aren't $300 and the children aren't toddlers. Next time you're baffled as to why a lawsuit exists, ask yourself if you have a problem with the actual lawsuit, or the one in your imagination.

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471921)

True tablets are $600 and the children were slightly older.
  but his point is still incredibly valid. Most 15 year olds are not responsible enough to have a tablet. But go ahead and pick stupid and irrelevant shit to point out...

and baffled why a lawsuit exists? Greed, pure fucking greed. $66 is not lawsuit material, trying to get rich off of someone else? that is what lawsuits are about...

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471971)

Greed, pure fucking greed.

While having $30 inapp purchases that just allow you to progress through the game slightly faster because you designed the game to be frustrating to play otherwise, what would you call that?

Aiming those purchases at children, putting them in children's games and incentivizing them to buy them by making them think the purchase will help the game characters, what would you call that?

Knowingly allowing those games onto your app store, while knowingly having no practical way of preventing those purchases from being executed without parental consent, what would you call that?

$1.3bn annual revenue, what would you call that?

Re:Please.... (5, Interesting)

bfandreas (603438) | about 8 months ago | (#46471791)

This is not a mom/dat CC issue but goes quite a bit further.

I will try to demonstrate this on a particular piece of shite brought to us from the people we love to loathe.
Enter Heroes of Dragon Age. This thing is a deck-building game. Think Hearthstone but the game plays your matches for you. In that respect I would consider it nothing more than an elaborate animated screensaver rather than a game. In HoDA the rarest cards pretty much guarantee your wins. You could grind for months and get lucky and get a couple of them. Or you could cough up monies to buy gems. 99 bucks buy you roughly 20 card draws, 18 of which will not be useful in any way shape or form(+/- statistical variance, but bear with me). You could play matches to earn gold to buy the packs which cost gold but your chance to get anything useful from those is so low that people who get lucky immediately start a forum post about that which in turn will become quite lively. Grinding for gold is a possibility but for one snag. You are limited to 6 PvE and 6PvP matches every two hours. Unless of course you pay gems to play more. So far so bad. The PvE campaign is designed in such a way that you will need the best cards after about an hour of play time. You will encounter multiple major brick walls.

This is one of the freemium offenders I know. I've been grinding as a free player since Christmas since it is a nice diversion which doesn't require a lot of thought or interaction. But I do have to say one thing about this: It smacks of gambling. In fact it is an elaborate variation of a slot machine. And I can see how a gambling addict could sink hundreds if not thousands of dollars into such a thing. And it seems to be completely unregulated.

OTOH if I gave you 99 bucks to spend on games and you headed over to the nearest Steam sale you would get so many games that you wouldn't emerge until next year if you completed them all. No value for a lot of money driven by addiction. Children are the easiest prey for this but certainly not the most lucrative.

So if you compare prices for gems with Steam sales you would think that these are not hardcore gamers. Wrong. Surprisingly so:
http://kotaku.com/who-are-the-... [kotaku.com]
http://www.theguardian.com/tec... [theguardian.com]

We are way, WAY beyond "you morons, stop buying gems!". At this point we are in need of regulation Nevada-style. In the meantime suing Google and Apple is the easiest way to apply some pressure but it sure as hell is not enough.

I would imagine you weren't totally shocked that EA is one of the worst offenders in that particular arena...

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471851)

I don't see how parents have anything to do with this.

Google made a system by which a child, under no supervision whatsoever, can spend their parent's money by simply asking them to introduce the password in a way that they'll be able to respond without paying any attention.

How can you construe that situation as having anything to do with the kid's parents is beyond my comprehension.

Parents created an environment in which they handed their electronic wallet to a child. After all, it's not the childs cell phone, credit card, or bank account we're talking about here. It's the parents.

The fault lies no further than the ignorant fool who hands their wallet out to anyone and everyone, including their own children.

Regardless of age, would you hand a child a wallet full of hundreds of dollars and zero accountability, expecting it to be returned?

I mean for fucks sake, how ignorant can we be about this? This is basically a lawsuit that blatantly calls out bad parenting and expects to be rewarded from it. Damn, have we devolved...why it seems it was only last week when 18-year olds were suing their parents for college money.

Re:Please.... (1)

SuperDre (982372) | about 8 months ago | (#46472079)

Uhm.. the parents are still completely responsible for what kids do on the devices, the parent could also choose not to activate the account before kids play with the device.. Parents are ALWAYS!!!! responsible for what their kids do, nobody else.. Sueing a company for the lack of control of the parent is just ignorant and only shows how stupid some parents really are by not taking the responsibility they have as parents.. If the kid goes to amazon with daddies account and buys everything there is, who's fault is it? amazon? ofcourse not...

Re:Please.... (0)

hax4bux (209237) | about 8 months ago | (#46471621)

I think they should be spay/neutered.

Re:Please.... (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 8 months ago | (#46471827)

you jest, but once my 3 year old son purchased $28 of nothing from nexon through google play.

The apps are designed to make it really easy for both non-readers and readers alike to buy stuff with flashy graphics.

Why? (5, Interesting)

Chatterton (228704) | about 8 months ago | (#46471563)

Why Google didn't reacted following the Apple case? It was just a question of time before the same kind of lawsuit would begin against them...

Re:Why? (1)

realsilly (186931) | about 8 months ago | (#46471919)

I thought Apple also allows a few purchases for x # minutes after the password is entered. I think that was the compromise of no password at all.

Parenting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471567)

I do think

Just call the credit card company and tell them (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#46471569)

Just call the credit card company and tell them that you didn't authorise these payments, then tell google you've done that. This puts the ball in google's court - the payment goes into dispute and they need to decide whether to claim that you did authorise the purchase or give you a refund. My money would be on the latter.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471631)

Just call the credit card company and tell them that you didn't authorise these payments, then tell google you've done that. This puts the ball in google's court - the payment goes into dispute and they need to decide whether to claim that you did authorise the purchase or give you a refund. My money would be on the latter.

Doing this you would be committing fraud against the credit card company and get you in trouble. You did authorise these payments because you logged in your child with proper credentials to shop using your card. That you didn't understand the consequences isn't good enough enough defence. Though I would love to be able to reverse the charges when my wife starts shopping with my logged in credit card enabled account.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#46471675)

Just call the credit card company and tell them that you didn't authorise these payments, then tell google you've done that. This puts the ball in google's court - the payment goes into dispute and they need to decide whether to claim that you did authorise the purchase or give you a refund. My money would be on the latter.

Doing this you would be committing fraud against the credit card company and get you in trouble. You did authorise these payments because you logged in your child with proper credentials to shop using your card. That you didn't understand the consequences isn't good enough enough defence. Though I would love to be able to reverse the charges when my wife starts shopping with my logged in credit card enabled account.

It would not be fraud - you authorised one payment then google took the rest without authorisation. I have done this previously with unauthorised follow-up payments and it really goes smoothly, it goes into dispute - the company has a chance to appeal - decides not to - terminates service and refund stands

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471719)

Just call the credit card company and tell them that you didn't authorise these payments, then tell google you've done that. This puts the ball in google's court - the payment goes into dispute and they need to decide whether to claim that you did authorise the purchase or give you a refund. My money would be on the latter.

Doing this you would be committing fraud against the credit card company and get you in trouble. You did authorise these payments because you logged in your child with proper credentials to shop using your card. That you didn't understand the consequences isn't good enough enough defence. Though I would love to be able to reverse the charges when my wife starts shopping with my logged in credit card enabled account.

It would not be fraud - you authorised one payment then google took the rest without authorisation. I have done this previously with unauthorised follow-up payments and it really goes smoothly, it goes into dispute - the company has a chance to appeal - decides not to - terminates service and refund stands

But these aren't unauthorized follow-up payments, a person you are responsible for and have logged in with your credit card credentials is sitting and making actual purchases.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 8 months ago | (#46472007)

But these aren't unauthorized follow-up payments, a person you are responsible for and have logged in with your credit card credentials is sitting and making actual purchases.

I doubt a court would see it this way. I'm sure it wasn't the intent of the account owner to authorize his kid to make any purchases.

Suppose a 10 year old walks up to a cashier at a Walmart, dumps 50 candy bars on the belt, and hands the cashier a credit card with no adult in sight. The cashier rings it up and charges the card. The kid opens all the candy and gives it away to friends, eats it, whatever. Later the adult discovers that the kid took his card out of his wallet when he wasn't looking and complains to his credit card company.

The fact that the kid had the card in no way authorizes its use. In fact, a court would laugh at a cashier not questioning the use of a card by a 10 year old.

This is really an extension of that. The phone owner did not give his kid permission to buy something, and thus it was not an authorized use of his account. The fact that the phone can't detect this scenario in no way makes the owner responsible. You can't unconsciously give somebody permission to do something. A computer might misinterpret your actions as authorizing something. A company might write a bunch of contract terms that claim that you can authorize something non-explicitly. However, in the end the only thing that matters is actual intent. If you don't intend to authorize a transaction, then no contract exists, and thus no obligation to pay the bill exists.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46472093)

But these aren't unauthorized follow-up payments, a person you are responsible for and have logged in with your credit card credentials is sitting and making actual purchases.

I doubt a court would see it this way. I'm sure it wasn't the intent of the account owner to authorize his kid to make any purchases.

Suppose a 10 year old walks up to a cashier at a Walmart, dumps 50 candy bars on the belt, and hands the cashier a credit card with no adult in sight. The cashier rings it up and charges the card. The kid opens all the candy and gives it away to friends, eats it, whatever. Later the adult discovers that the kid took his card out of his wallet when he wasn't looking and complains to his credit card company.

The fact that the kid had the card in no way authorizes its use. In fact, a court would laugh at a cashier not questioning the use of a card by a 10 year old.

This is really an extension of that. The phone owner did not give his kid permission to buy something, and thus it was not an authorized use of his account. The fact that the phone can't detect this scenario in no way makes the owner responsible. You can't unconsciously give somebody permission to do something. A computer might misinterpret your actions as authorizing something. A company might write a bunch of contract terms that claim that you can authorize something non-explicitly. However, in the end the only thing that matters is actual intent. If you don't intend to authorize a transaction, then no contract exists, and thus no obligation to pay the bill exists.

Doesn't this mean that anybody could reverse any online marketplace credit card transaction just blaming their kids? Or even wife, if it wasn't my intent that she used my card for online shopping?

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 8 months ago | (#46472161)

But these aren't unauthorized follow-up payments, a person you are responsible for and have logged in with your credit card credentials is sitting and making actual purchases.

I doubt a court would see it this way. I'm sure it wasn't the intent of the account owner to authorize his kid to make any purchases.

Suppose a 10 year old walks up to a cashier at a Walmart, dumps 50 candy bars on the belt, and hands the cashier a credit card with no adult in sight. The cashier rings it up and charges the card. The kid opens all the candy and gives it away to friends, eats it, whatever. Later the adult discovers that the kid took his card out of his wallet when he wasn't looking and complains to his credit card company.

The fact that the kid had the card in no way authorizes its use. In fact, a court would laugh at a cashier not questioning the use of a card by a 10 year old.

In that case, the store could decide to file a criminal complaint against the child. Merchant agreements aside, the clerk has no way of knowing if the parent authorized the use of the card, or even if the card isn't the child's' although a 10 year old would be a bit of a stretch. They accepted it in good faith, if the parent claims fraudulent use then the store could attempt to recover from the child.

I realize your 10 year old example is a bit extreme but it's still fraud. However, plenty of parents let their kids use their cards,and stores accept them without question. Most parents wouldn't claim fraudulent use been if the kid took it without their knowledge; so is it the store's fault they assume the person using the card is the an authorized user? I would like stores to check my ID with any purchase since that would make it a lot harder for someone to use my card but most stores don't want the hassle and many customers would get upset as well.

This is really an extension of that. The phone owner did not give his kid permission to buy something, and thus it was not an authorized use of his account. The fact that the phone can't detect this scenario in no way makes the owner responsible. You can't unconsciously give somebody permission to do something. A computer might misinterpret your actions as authorizing something. A company might write a bunch of contract terms that claim that you can authorize something non-explicitly. However, in the end the only thing that matters is actual intent. If you don't intend to authorize a transaction, then no contract exists, and thus no obligation to pay the bill exists.

Except Google has no way of knowing if it is the child or the adult using the phone, so it's reasonable to hold the owner responsible in such cases.

Re: Just call the credit card company and tell the (1)

nbritton (823086) | about 8 months ago | (#46472101)

No. Strictly speaking, the only person authorized to transact purchases on your credit card is you. This is why you need to sign for purchases with a credit card in real life; it's a contract, and at the end of the day the card holder did not consent (contractually) to the purchases and can lawfully dispute the charges. In this instance the child was the one who defrauded the bank. However, because they're not likely to even comprehend the crime they perpetrated the child wound not be prosecuted criminally. Technically there is nothing stopping the bank from coming after the parent of the child for civil damages, the bank would have start a civil suit at law to hold the parents responsible for the child's actions. The bank doesn't have the resources to do that in every case so they simply accept it as a cost of doing business.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#46471659)

Given that Google will likely have a very clear record that you did indeed authorize the payment this action could very quickly land you in hot water.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#46471683)

Given that Google will likely have a very clear record that you did indeed authorize the payment this action could very quickly land you in hot water.

No - because if you read TFA people are authorising a payment and google is taking more without authorisation.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

N1AK (864906) | about 8 months ago | (#46471691)

No - because if you read TFA people are authorising a payment and google is taking more without authorisation.

Yes - because the terms the user has agreed to are clear. Should Google make it easier to use the device in the way the majority of parents and children want to use it? Yes. Is Google breaking any laws by providing a device that doesn't? Not that I'm aware of.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Threni (635302) | about 8 months ago | (#46471751)

Is this a question? Yes, but this is an answer.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471783)

Is Google breaking any laws by providing a device that doesn't? Not that I'm aware of.

I wouldn't be too sure about that.
You have a legal responsibility to make sure that you aren't selling things to a minor. Google only verifies the first purchase, the rest of them they don't.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471885)

Ridiculous. It's utterly preposterous that people expect everything to be child-proof. Fuck your crotch fruit. No, we won't 'save the children'; they don't need to be saved. Just fuck off and take responsibility for the fact that you gave your kid a phone and put them in a situation where they could make purchases.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471943)

> It's utterly preposterous that people expect everything to be child-proof.

It's utterly preposterous that people expect games designed for children to be child-proof.

How about baby toys with sharp corners, is that also ok?

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46472069)

No.. just like when I went to a restaurant with a group that caused our bill to have a 18% gratuity added on. The service SUCKED so we all decided to tip either 5 or 10%, I forget (talking half hour to even get a drink order, 45 minutes for any drinks to show up type deal). I paid *my bill* as written, signed and authorized for the cost of my items plus the extra 5 or 10% tip like everyone else at the table. Now, at a POS, they have some time after the initial swipe to add in tip etc to the total before finalizing the bill... and that's *exactly* what they did. They took the total from the table at 18%, subtracted the total + tip we all left, and ran my card for the difference.
Sorry, JUST because I gave them my card once and signed once DOES NOT mean they can charge my card again for the difference. That'd fraud, point blank. What google is doing is no different. You're authorizing ONE purchase, yet the software continues to allow purchases for the next half hour without any confirmation, done by someone that is NOT you.

It would be no different than taking your child to a store, allowing them to pick an item which you then purchase with your card by swiping and signing, BUT for the next half hour they're able to just grab whatever they want, go up to the cashier and they just keep ringing the items out on your card info *without* you verifying that you're authorizing the purchases.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Apotekaren (904220) | about 8 months ago | (#46471697)

Nope, people *think* they only authorized one payment, because they don't know how the system works.
What they actually are authorizing is a 30 minute windows of purchases.

How can Google fix it? Just remind them at every log-in. "The device will have authorization for payments for the next 30 minutes."

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | about 8 months ago | (#46471745)

Or simply add a checkbox to the authorisation form, which must be ticked to enable the 30-minute window.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 8 months ago | (#46471893)

Given that Google will likely have a very clear record that you did indeed authorize the payment this action could very quickly land you in hot water.

But you didn't. Not if your three year old pressed the button, without you knowing. It's not just a matter of payment. It is a purchase, which is a contract. The payment is just part of that contract. The three year old entered a contract, which as we all should know is voidable for the next fifteen years (when the three year old turned 18). When the contract is voided, any payments have to be repaid.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471799)

Just make sure you don't value the Google account that the apps were bought on - they would probably shut down the account in retaliation for any chargebacks.

Re:Just call the credit card company and tell them (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#46471977)

Just make sure you don't value the Google account that the apps were bought on - they would probably shut down the account in retaliation for any chargebacks.

Of course that's true. Personally I think it would teach the kid a lesson if their account was deleted and its not hard to set up another which would be totally unconnected to your credit cards.

as always in this world (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471573)

its someone elses fault

Wait a minute... (4, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about 8 months ago | (#46471575)

This sounds awfully familiar... Didn't Apple have this exact same problem?

Thanks, TFA:

The case against Google is similar to one brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against Apple over children's in-app purchases. That case was settled in January and Apple agreed to pay at least US$32.5 million to customers.

Now we need to ask why Google didn't take action to prevent this sort of thing.

Re:Wait a minute... (3, Insightful)

LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) | about 8 months ago | (#46471611)

Now we need to ask why Google didn't take action to prevent this sort of thing.

Because the 30 minute *cha-ching!* window was making the corporate overlords and their shareholders cream their jeans?

Google copying Apple...again (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 8 months ago | (#46471577)

There Google goes again, copying Apple. This time getting themselves sued for the same reason.

google powder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471619)

"These games are highly addictive, designed deliberately so, and tend to compel children playing them to purchase large quantities of game currency, amounting to as much as $100 per purchase or more," according to the complaint.

Add to Schedule 1

Next we should sue the US treasury for issuing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471647)

non-child-proof monetary bills.
It's completely unreasonable that a child could simply use his parent's money and buy candies and toys without their consent.

Re:Next we should sue the US treasury for issuing (4, Insightful)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | about 8 months ago | (#46471671)

Monetary bills are already child-proof in this regard. If I give a child $1 this doesn't cause any other money I may have to spontaneously teleport into the child's possession every time the child approaches a toy or sweet within the next 30 minutes. If the child wants more of my money then he/she will need to ask me again.

Re:Next we should sue the US treasury for issuing (2, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 8 months ago | (#46471737)

A child taking money from your wallet without your knowledge is no different to this situation.

Re:Next we should sue the US treasury for issuing (1)

paziek (1329929) | about 8 months ago | (#46471903)

More like this, maybe?

A child taking your money from their wallet without your knowledge is no different to this situation.

Re:Next we should sue the US treasury for issuing (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 8 months ago | (#46472003)

That would be the case if you linked their bank card to their Google account, and not your bank card to their Google account, or even gave them access to your bank card on your Google account.

Re:Next we should sue the US treasury for issuing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471835)

Yes, and so are iOS gift cards. Meanwhile if you give your child your bank card and PIN, they can spend as much as they like. ... what's the relevance to TFA anyway? Are you saying this wouldn't have occurred if only app purchases could be done by magically sending cash over the intertubes?

Magical: Gift cards, bitcoins (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 8 months ago | (#46472203)

Are you saying this wouldn't have occurred if only app purchases could be done by magically sending cash over the intertubes?

I agree with BarefootMonkey:
- with actual money (and all its electronic imitations, like gift cards, bitcoin, etc.), the control can't be delegated to someone else. Either you have the token, and you decide to spend it. Or you give the token to someone else, and that someone has 100% control on whatever happens to that token (spend it, keep it for later, etc.), but can't do anything about the other tokens still in you pockets.
- with credit cards (and all electronic equivalent, like TFA's google wallet), you give credential to someone else (kid, google, app, whatever), and that someone has suddenly full power to take AS MUCH money as possible until the blocking limit of the credit card. You give a kid the card so the kid can buy a 1.99$ app, but then with the same card, the kid can also buy 200$ worth of in-game bonus.

So indeed, with a cash-equivalent (like a gift card), this situation wouldn't have happened.

Possible way would be:

* Purchase limit. Currently only a timer keeps user logged in (30 seconds). Google could easily implement a "spend" limit (after 20$, CC owner needs to log-in again, no matter if we're only 2sec. into the 30 sec. timer).

* Gift card. Parents buy electronic coupons for 20$ to their kid and let the kid have fun. Once the kid has used up the coupon, well sorry kiddo, you used all your money. ( - This actually helps the kid realise better how things work with cash flow. The kid can notice that there is a limited amount, and that it runs up)

* Cryptocurrencies. I'm not kidding. Bitcoin and co were actually developed exactly for that, exactly to introduce cash-like behaviour. Except for security compromises, bitcoins can't vanish out of your wallet software without your intervention (just like cash can't jump out of your pocket unless a thief is involved).
If you transmit bitcoins to someone else, that someone has full power over them (as noticed by some suckers who left all their coins in exchanges or other on-line wallets that vanished afterward), but can't do anything about those still inside your software wallet.
The only difference with gift cards are:
- gift cards are generally controlled by a single entity which decide over them and handles them. and usually (but not always) they map to actual currency (in some shops, you get a gift card for 20$. But in other shops you get a card for 2000 points, that you paid for 20$, but perhaps later you'll end-up acquiring 25$ worth of goods).
- bitcoins (BTC, the coins) are used on the bitcoin protocol that is distributed. Nobody centrally controls it, anyone is free to jump in and join the party, as long as they follow the protocol (saddly, the lack of regulation means that any crook could do it too. hence all the bitcoin powered scams). And the vlue of BTC are on a roller coaster (meaning that, although it works very well as a mean to "magically send cash over the intertubes", it does a poor job at storing value over time)

Yet another solved problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471743)

I like the little key icon my distro has which lets me drop privileges.

Liability should depend on implementation (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 months ago | (#46471823)

IF the system asked "do you want us to save your cc# for later purchases?" and they affirmed, it's the parents' problem.

If, OTOH the cc# was saved without advising the user that it WOULD be saved, that's just economic opportunism, and SHOULD be illegal - saving cc# data in a format that it can be executed for a transaction without affirmative confirmation by the sole cardholder is pretty much the same as making a copy of their cc, no?

Simple Checkbox (3, Insightful)

Drethon (1445051) | about 8 months ago | (#46471863)

That says "Remember this payment method for the next half hour?" Then they can choose to make it a one shot only payment.

What about the parents? (1, Informative)

X10 (186866) | about 8 months ago | (#46471865)

Of course, parents can be held in no way responsible for handing their phone to their kids and having their credit card emptied. Same as when I hand my credit card to my kid, it's not my fault when my kid uses it to buy stuff online.

What are these people thinking?

Re:What about the parents? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 8 months ago | (#46472187)

Of course, parents can be held in no way responsible for handing their phone to their kids and having their credit card emptied. Same as when I hand my credit card to my kid, it's not my fault when my kid uses it to buy stuff online.

What are these people thinking?

That nothing is their, or their kid's fault. It's the same reasoning that blames teachers for bad grades, coaches for not playing their child, cops for giving them a ticket for running a stop sign, etc. Clearly someone else is to blame for their actions.

Protecting us from the stupid (2, Insightful)

Akratist (1080775) | about 8 months ago | (#46471869)

Ho hum. Try exercising some parental responsibility for a change.

Call the carrier (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 8 months ago | (#46471905)

I did a stint with a major carrier doing customer service and billing related stuff. Calls like this came in all the time. Standard procedure was to refund the money and educate the customer so it doesn't happen again. Of course you log in their account that you gave them a one time courtesy refund and educated them on the matter so if they call back with the same complaint you can find a polite way of saying "Too bad so sad". I also spent a lot of time flat out blocking the ability to purchase from the play store, blocking in app-purchases, and blocking short codes.

Dad .. Can I? (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 8 months ago | (#46471911)

No!
Oh but why?
No!
But. But.. That's not fair.
Don't care. Grow up unhappy.

Kids need to learn how to say No! to their kids or you end up with shitty grandchildren.
That's my motivation and future investment in people done.

Re:Dad .. Can I? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 8 months ago | (#46472207)

They engineered it so "no" doesn't work, unless you flat out refuse to ever let you kid use the tablet. If you say "yes" to one purchase - a reward because they've done their chores, whatever - then the tablet silently allows them to buy anything they want for the next 30 minutes.

Better notification of in-app purchases (2)

swb (14022) | about 8 months ago | (#46471923)

Too many games are sold for free and/or $0.99 yet to be playable require in app purchases to be at all playable.

I closely control what games my 9 year old can play and review them before we buy them and its impossible to tell which ones will be worth a damn without blowing another $10 in in-app purchases to make them playable. I reject games with what look like too-many in-app purchases, and he doesn't have the ability to make those purchases.

Too often I wind up with a very frustrated 9 year old who's upset that he can't win/progress because the game basically requires in-app purchases to be playable for any length of time.

I don't know if there's a very workable solution, but I think devs should be required to clear notification that "advancement or continued play in this game requires in app purchases; the total cost of this game exceeds its initial purchase price."

Unfortunately the app-store economics were built around the "99 cent" app and apparently its either not viable to make a decent title at that price point nor is it possible to get the sales volume for $5.99 games that actually offer playability when you're competing against a sea of nominal 99 cent games.

From the point of view of the developer (2)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 8 months ago | (#46471951)

Uhh... How I would manage to make the application differentiate the father of the child, if the child in question has the credentials and passwords of his father? Is not possible yet to perform miracles.

Re:From the point of view of the developer (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 8 months ago | (#46472029)

Uhh... How I would manage to make the application differentiate the father of the child, if the child in question has the credentials and passwords of his father? Is not possible yet to perform miracles.

I believe the issue in questions is NOT that the child can just type in the password and buy stuff. As you say, there's nothing Google can do about that outside of forced fingerprint reading.

BUT that after the parent types in the password to buy the child Angry Birds or whatever... that password is active / cached for another 30 minutes. So when they hand the phone back to the child, he/she can start buying whatever they want for the next half hour. Cartoons, games, music, etc.

Apple does something similar, I believe it's a 15 minute window now. At least it's shorter, but that window still exists.

Ultimately there has to be a compromise: security vs ease of use. Many would be annoyed if they have to type in their password over and over to buy something each time. Sure you're only buying one or two apps at a time... but what about music? What about comics and books? etc. Just last night I bought 10 comics through Comixology on my iPad... it only prompted me for password once.

Personally my password is over 20 characters, a mix of upper/lower case and numbers. I'd probably be annoyed having to type that into my phone over and over.

Parents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46471957)

Why do parents link their credit card to their kid account in the first place? If you want to give them apps/credits you can gift apps and buy gift card that they redeem in their account. They are on sale everywhere including supermarket.

Lacking Parenting versus Corporate Greed (1)

realsilly (186931) | about 8 months ago | (#46471979)

Hmmmmmm decisions decisions decisions. I look at it this way, both are wrong and at fault.

If a corporation forces you to have a CC on file at all times and then allows a 30 minute window of massive funds spending, then they own some responsibility in all of this. Companies want income this is an easy way of doing it, and by placing the info in the EULA as a default action is just a "F U" consumer, we'll do what we want because we've got you addicted to our product. A CYA would be a user setting that is either device wide or insist on the App developers to add a Selectable Option: Must Use Password for every purchase? If yes, then the password must be entered for every freaking purchase, otherwise default to system settings of 30 minute window.

WTF parents. How the hell can you blame a kid for their continuous purchases. Every parent knows that if a kid wants something they will get it. If you give a child a cookie, they always want more, and if you don't hide the cookies and the child knows how to get to them, the child will get them and consume them until they puke and will still continue eating them. How the heck is a cool application that allows you to make a purchase which enhances the game any different. Why is it the big corporations fault for you handing over your phone with either the password already entered for a purchase or telling your kid what the password is? You refuse to engage with your kids, but rather prefer to entertain them with devices that are TIED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD. Quit your bitching, take responsibility for your children's actions, and Parent Your F'ing Kids,

I don't know about the android store, but (1)

dosun88888 (265953) | about 8 months ago | (#46472049)

On iTunes I set up an account for my son that has no CC tied to it and is funded with gift cards to prevent exactly this. If he blows $50 because he has no idea what he's doing, then who cares?

Bad Parents (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 8 months ago | (#46472059)

Parents who maybe should not be parents in the first place want to abandon the responsibility of being at hand with their children. To top it off they apparently share passwords and maybe credit cards with their kids. Just how is that Google's fault? Really it boild down to stupid parents who probably do not have sufficient money to have kids in the first place. If both mom and dad work full time and are too beat up at the end of the day to raise their kids whose fault is that? It is as if we must tolerate people having babies who are too thoughtless to realise that one full time parent watching over the kids night and day is the minimum for having kids.

Re:Bad Parents (1)

Noxal (816780) | about 8 months ago | (#46472147)

Not that I agree with anything you're saying, but how would you enforce this "minimum for having kids" of yours if you were supreme ruler?

This seems easily fixable (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 8 months ago | (#46472109)

Parents could setup an account and fund it with a gift card from Google. That limits the amount of damage that can be done.

If Google requires a credit card to create an account (I do not have a Google Play account so I do not know if that is the case); set the default to require a password before charging the card each time. You could allow users to change that to add a grace period but then they knowingly opened themselves up to multiple charges.

Alternatively, fund the account from one of these prepaid credit cards that you can load with money and it will only allow charges up to the amount left on the card. My bank offers one of those aimed at children; it allows them to buy things and not carry cash, while still controlling their spending. Additionally, in an emergency I can fund the card directly from an app.

This lawsuit sounds more like parents unwilling to assume responsibility for their own actions and properly supervise their children than anything nefarious on Google's part. If I were on the jury (as suing it actually would go to trail) I'd find for Google in about two seconds.

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