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China’s highest court supports refund for kids’ excessive spending on games, livestreaming apps

The directive from the Supreme People’s Court comes amid the growing number of disputes over money spent by minors on these platforms.

Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

China’s court system is expected to support refund claims by parents and guardians against online gaming and livestreaming platforms, which receive excessive payments from underage users, according to local media.

That guidance was issued on Tuesday by the Supreme People’s Court, the country’s highest appellate forum, in response to the growing number of disputes over children who have spent large amounts of money on these platforms, according to a report by state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

It covers cases in which a person with limited capacity for civil conduct participates in paid gaming online or webcast platform activities without the consent of their legal guardian, particularly when the person spends an “inappropriate” sum of money to make in-game purchases or online tips, the CCTV report said.

Read this: Revenues of Chinese mobile game providers hit record-high of USD 7 billion during Q1

This judicial directive adds more teeth to the recent anti-addiction guidelines for minors, which set out limits for time and money spent on mobile games, introduced by the State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP) in November last year.

The SAAP guidelines introduced a stricter real-name registration system and, for the first time, an age rating system. It also limits the allowed time minors can play games to between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., with no more than 1.5 hours each day—or three hours on holidays—and no more than 400 yuan (USD 57) to be spent each month on in-game purchases.

Representatives from Tencent Holdings and NetEase, China’s two largest video games operators, did not immediately respond to separate requests for comment.

Having the Supreme People’s Court’s directive bolster the SAPP’s anti-addiction guidelines comes at a time when there are a total of 175 million juvenile internet users across China, representing online access for more than 90% of people under 18 years of age in the world’s largest video games market.

China had more than 904 million internet users as of March this year, according to a report released in April by China Internet Network Information Center, an agency under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

This article was originally published by South China Morning Post.