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Google amends Play Store password permissions in face of apoplectic parents

Google has moved to change their in-app purchase rules in a step that has all the hallmarks of a stand-down in response to a class action suit brought in the US.

Related: In-app purchases expected to drive mobile app revenue as downloads slow

It’s being reported by Engadget that the latest update to the Google Play Store adds a “Require password” settings option that flashes up each time an app is downloaded from the store. It allows device owners to change the settings to require a password “for all purchases through Google Play on this device,” “every 30 minutes” or “never.”

The update also adds a prominent in-app purchase reminder every time an app with such purchases is downloaded that flashes up and states in bold that the user can make purchases within the app.

Google’s update comes in the wake of a class action case that was brought against the firm earlier this week in relation to in-app purchase bills being run up by children on devices owned by parents.

A group of parents, led by a New York mother, have taken legal action against Google after the mother’s five-year-old son was able to spend $66 [£39] within five minutes of downloading Marvel Run Jump Smash. This was down to the fact that once downloading the app, the password didn’t have to be entered again for another 30 minutes and it required no further authorisation before a purchase was made.

In-app purchases are something that various authorities are clamping down on and this was apparent by the US Federal Trade Commission [FTC] telling Apple to hand over £19.8 million in refunds to US customers after its App Store allowed children to make huge purchases.

Europe is going further than that with the European Union talking to various parties about devising a stricter set of rules to govern in-app purchases and the UK has already mandated that online game producers comply with new guidelines related to in-app purchases.