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Chrome will soon warn you about tricky mobile subscription signups

Engadget 2018-11-08 13:00:00

Starting in Chrome 71, the browser will serve up warnings to keep you from accidentally signing up for a subscription service. The new protocol will address mobile websites that require visitors to enter their phone number before viewing content. Those prompts can lead to charges showing up on your next phone bill even if you didn't explicitly agree to it.

According to Google, millions of people every month stumble upon pages with insufficient mobile subscription information and wind up accidentally signed up for premium texting services and other unwanted plans. Instead of allowing sites to essentially trick people into getting charged for a service they aren't even aware they signed up for, Google is implementing new best practices that will make clear some of the details that websites try to hide.

Sites will be asked to make billing information, including how much a person will be charged, visible and obvious to users during the sign up process. Fee structures will have to be displayed in a manner that is easy to understand so there is no confusion about payments.

Sites that fail to meet Google's new requirements will end up with a warning page that Chrome will display before allowing users to sign up or submit any information. Google will notify webmasters when their sites are falling short of its standards so they can fix up their site and make charges clear, but until they comply with best practices, they will have to live with Google treating them as a potentially malicious site.

Google's new standards and warning system for unclear subscription services will be present in Chrome 71, which will be available sometime in December. Google is also cracking down on deceptive ads in the upcoming version of the browser. The new mechanism will be available on Chrome mobile, Chrome desktop and Android's WebView.