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Hey Google, thanks for making my daughter cry.

Several years ago I set up a gmail account for my daughter so she could send email to her grandparents. At the beginning of this school year, she started using it much more actively to send messages to her friends and classmates. She also started a blogger blog as a class project.

Then, we woke up this morning to find that Google had disabled both her blog and her email account--apparently because she is under age.

Now, I don't remember seeing anything about the age restriction when I originally set up her account. And I understand that Google needs to comply with COPPA, but all of that is really beside the point.

My complaint is about the way Google has chosen to act in this matter--both the fact that they didn't notify us at all--they simply turned off the account without any warning, locking up all her data, preventing us from accessing it. And, more importantly, in the way they chose to implement their COPPA compliance.

Remember, COPPA places restrictions on websites. It limits the information that Google can collect about children. Google could be 100% COPPA compliant if they simply changed the way they collect data. And, in fact, Google does this already. They provide COPPA compliant email accounts for children under 13 from their Apps for Education domains.

So let's be clear here. There's no legal reason behind Google's decision to block my daughter's account. They've chosen to implement these age restrictions in this particular way. They've chosen to lock up my daughter's data without warning. They've chosen to threaten to delete the data.

Remember, we're talking about letters from grandparents and friends. I can't even log in and back them up. They're just gone.

Google could have made other choices--choices that are more customer friendly, more child friendly and more parent friendly. But they didn't. They've chosen to act in a dogmatic, inflexible way. They've chosen to ignore parental consent and opinion. They've chosen to act apparently without ever considering how their actions might affect the people who use and rely on their services. Damn the consequences, they did what they wanted to do and ignored everything else.

So, yes. I'm a bit pissed with Google at the moment. I think they could and should do better. This is just not acceptable behavior.
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Bob Lee
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The same happened to me. It also means my daughter can't log into her Chromebook!
 
they did the dear-sophie advertisement but they are banning people who are actually doing it. they lie to us. they should have some guardian's email option for those who are underage and still want to share the love to their grandparents
 
In the Dear Sophie ads, the account is "dear sophie lee," and the father writes messages to Sophie, who presumably reads it when she is old enough not to fall afoul of Google's rules.

Which does not excuse the behavior/policies Rich mentions, but it is a different scenario.
 
This kind of behavior seems to be in Googles genes. Any complaint seems fall on deaf ears unless it gets serious publicity or some corporation needs it.I feel like the customer more the product with any of the non optinal changes.
 
+Rudolf Olah I'm definitely looking at my options. But that only solves half the problem. I'm almost more upset about the fact that we cannot access her old email. All those old letters from Grandma...they're just gone.
 
+Miles Skorpen I'm not sure there is a difference. In the Sophie case, the father (presumably) set up an email account for someone under 13. Google is still recording data about the underage person. Yes, it's incoming email and not outgoing email. But I doubt that would matter, legally.

Regardless, they at least strongly imply that we CAN set up email accounts for our children. At the very least, it's misleading.
 
+Bob Lee, man. I was thinking about getting her a Chromebook! And she uses Google Docs all the time for school. I assume that slips through the educational apps exception--but she wants to use them at home too.
 
+Rich Warren just to focus on recovering the lost emails. It might be possible that the emails from Grandma etc are all still in their respective sent items lists. You might be able to collect the emails that way into a new mail account.
 
Perhaps this is a teachable moment for your kid. There are things in life to be sad about, things in life to cry about, things in life to be pissed and mad about... and losing some emails is not one of them. Let's put this in perspective. It's just an email address. She didn't lose a pet or a family member. She didn't get struck by a car and is now permanently disabled. It's just an email address. Get a new one.
 
I remember signing up into free hosting services with my dad's info to make websites when I was 11. Even back then it was pretty clear I wasn't allowed to do anything on internet. Didn't think something would happend though, I just did it "in case".
 
You're situation is a result of a COPPA complication as noncompliance with it has dire consequnces, Google is not to blame here. Your child is special to you but she is just one users among millions and automation is the only way to deal with the numbers.
 
Well, the agreement, while creating a Gmail account, does state in its terms that -

4.4 You acknowledge and agree that if Google disables access to your account, you may be prevented from accessing the Services, your account details or any files or other content which is contained in your account.

Hope they send you a backup though...
 
You should make your case to Google that it is your account that you allow her to use.
 
Google has the ability to restore recently deleted emails (there was a piece in The Atlantic detailing this) thus i'd push for a resolution asap before the backups are overwritten.
 
You are not a customer. You do not pay for a free Google email account. The Google terms of service seem pretty clear. Section 2.3 states, "You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google, " Further part B of section two also states that "You accept the terms... by actually using the services." Again pretty clear, use the service, means acceptance of the terms, which a minor can not do.
While I can certainly sympathize with you ( I have my own little princess) I can't see why one should be upset with Google for enforcing their rules. Perhaps as mentioned by a few others, it's time to setup another email account friendlier to children or perhaps an email server. Here is one article on a few kid friendly email providers,
http://www.pcworld.com/article/153381/a_parents_guide_to_safe_simple_kidfriendly_email.html Good luck.
 
+Erik Sundell Actually, I think that's the way I originally set it up. After all, I want access to the account, so I can monitor what she's doing. Then I can give it to her when she's older.

But I'm still pretty pissed about how Google chose to act.
Rich Warren
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+Archangel Amael, I disagree. We are customers. And we should expect (and even demand) a certain amount of customer service and respect from Google.

Just because I don't give them money, doesn't mean I'm not paying for the service. There is an implicit agreement here. Google gives me email, in exchange they have access to a lot of information about me. That information has a lot of value.
 
+Chris Olin That account wasn't an Apps for education account was it? and it's not like they altered the TOS mid-use, the policy was in place before the account was opened, and he has only himself to blame for not realizing that. As for getting the 100% COPPA compliance, well that would only require Google to change it's entire business model :P
 
No idea if this is viable or not, but can the account get at its data through Google Takeout? At least then you could get access to the data, if not the services.

https://www.google.com/takeout/

Edit: sorry, just noticed gmail isn't listed among the services supported there. :(
 
+Scott Duffy I don't think it's wise to tell other people what is and what isn't valuable.

For example, I have a watch on my shelf. It's a nice watch, but not particularly expensive. Not a Rolex or anything. Still, it's my grandfather's watch. When I look at it, I remember riding in the car beside him as a child. To me, it's one of the most valuable possessions I own.

Regardless, it's not that my daughter is special to me, it's that she's a human being and a customer. Cutting off access to a customer's data is simply not acceptable.
 
This seems awful tyrannical. Please #google fix this.
 
This is one of many reasons why my son's email, IM, and other core services are all hosted on my server under my control. I don't want his data under someone else's control any more than I want mine to be. No Chromebook here, he got his netbook when he was able to install Linux on it himself (with reasonable help from me).

Now, in Google's defense, they have shareholders and there's a point where any publicly-traded company has to take the path of least liability. They are playing it safe -- too safe, in my opinion -- but when the company is owned by countless individuals with unknown value systems, you can't say "this is the moral line we won't cross, even if it hurts the company" That's why I'm not interested in giving them my family's data.

On the other hand... why aren't we hearing more criticism of COPPA, which is what made companies deem under-13 users too risky in the first place?
 
+Rich Warren What exactly is it you think they did wrong? the policy was in place from the start they didn't change it then kick you out, considering the consequences of not complying with law they did what was necessary. I think you have only yourself to blame here for not reading the TOS.
 
However I agree with the topic; You are using a 'free' service.
 
I'm sorry for your loss, but I can't help but feel like your anger is misplaced. When you create an account, Google lays out the terms you must agree to, warning that if you break them they will disable the account. You broke the terms, and they acted accordingly. Whether you like Google's implementation of COPA compliance is beside the point; the terms of the account were set when you created it.

Again, I am sorry about your loss, and I do hope you can find an amicable solution.
 
+Rich Warren Sorry but not going to try and debate the semantics of the words purchase, or customer here. But as many have stated the Terms were likely there before you signed up for the account, further as I mentioned above, using the service means you have to agree to it's TOS each and every time you use it, even it if changes, from the last time you read it. Further is Google really the best place to be collecting information on your daughter?
 
It's funny – so many amazing companies just don't get how to interact with their users – and google is pretty much the top of that list. Free service or not, we, the users, play a critical role – in google's case, we're the product they sell, in most cases. It's in their best interests to keep us happy (or at least treat us with respect/consideration), in aggregate.

But that's just it, it probably comes down to the fact that they care about the masses, not the individuals... foolishly, since the power of one bad incident can be enough to sway the masses.
 
This is not the first time it happens. There are much worse cases, were they assume that an account is used by underage user when it is not, and actually it is used by some freelance professional. And they just block it. If you had no local copy of the email - you are screwed.
 
+Shauna Davis According to the notice, I have 28 days before the data is deleted. So I have a little time. I want to think things through before I make any decisions on what I'm going to do regarding the locked data.
 
+Rich Warren - do they give you/your daughter any way to retrieve/export the data? I'm assuming not, but it's less clear, if they've told you that you have 28 days before it's deleted.
 
+Ted Pollari That's the thing, Google users ARE happy in aggregate. The handful of users who go through issues like this every year do nothing to change the opinions of the billion individuals that use Google services without encountering problems. That's not to say that Google doesn't have room to improve, or even that they aren't actively trying to improve the manner in which they handle issues like this. But caring about masses isn't foolish, it's how you run a profitable corporation.
 
A lot of people have said something like, "What are you whining about, it was in the TOS".

Yes, that's true. But that doesn't excuse Google's behavior.

I have 4 main points:

1) The way Google chose to enforce their TOS is, in my opinion, completely unacceptable. You don't just cut of a customer's access to their data without any warning. That's simply not acceptable. We are customers and we deserve a little care and respect.

2) Google is using COPPA as an excuse. As I understand it, there's nothing preventing them from implementing COPPA-compliant email for children. In fact, they already do provide that service. It's just not (as far as I can tell) publicly available.

As a parent, I would love it if Google created an explicit path for parents to create approved and managed accounts for their children. They can do this. We just need to convince them that it's worth their effort.

Hiding behind COPPA is just an excuse for laziness on their part.

This is not a trivial matter. These policies have far-reaching ramifications. Chromebooks would be great computers for children--but, technically they cannot use them. Also, a lot of kids in my daughter's class are getting smart phones for Christmas. I sure hope none of them are getting Android phones.

3) Whether the fault is Google or COPPA, these policies are just wrong. I, as the parent, should be the one who determines which online services my child can and cannot use. And, with the growing influence of digital media and online services, children have a growing need to legitimately use a lot of these services. Enforcing these age restrictions creates an unacceptable digital divide. Something has to change.

4) Finally, I have a right to complain when I think a company has done something wrong. Maybe they didn't break the law. Maybe they followed their internal rules to the letter. Still, I can and should speak out and try to get them to change their policies whenever I think these policies are wrong.
 
+Ted Pollari According to the notification when she tried to log in, the account is disabled. As far as I know, there's no way to access or download the data. The account data will be deleted in 28 days if she does not prove that the account owner is over 13.

So the data hasn't been deleted yet, but I have no way to access it. I could probably claim ownership of the account and use my credentials to unlock it. However, I'm not sure if that would work, or if its something that I want to do.

As I said, I need to think over my options.
 
" You don't just cut of a customer's access to their data without any warning." -- your daughter isn't a customer -- she was a consumer, or, more accurately, she was part of what Google sells to other companies... our eyeballs.

That doesn't excuse the behavior, but it explains some of the disregard, I think.
 
+Ted Pollari I would say that google does a pretty good job at interacting with their users. But why should Google deal with minors, considering the legal implications alone? Not to mention that likely in the eyes of a court; this account was created under false pretenses and an obvious disregard of the Terms of Service. Again one may not like them, but one does have to agree to follow them when they create and use the product.
 
This.

Stories like this are just some of the "unintended consequences" when you have (hopefully) well intentioned but more likely out of touch and clueless bureaucrats enacting legislation and regulations that stomp all over peoples ability to function.

Google, get a clue.
 
+Shauna Davis Honestly, I'm afraid of any other unintended consequences. Is there something in the TOS that prevents users from having more than one account? Honestly, at the moment I can't say. I don't want to do anything that will make things worse, and possibly have my account disabled as well.
 
+James Manning It's very easy to back up a Gmail account, just enable IMAP access and then use a desktop email app (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc) to download all the email. It's also pretty easy to export your contacts list from Gmail's "contacts" page.
 
Let's be clear here. I don't remember ever being asked my daughter's age when I set up the account. I don't remember being told about the age limits.

In fact, I remember being surprised when the issue cropped up with the Dear Sophie commercials.

Given the severity of the consequences, I think Google needs to do a lot more to warn users.
 
+Rich Warren In all likelihood you could (under the TOS) be able to have more than one account. It is not likely that Google could tell if a single person has more than one account. Many people share computers and as such would have their own accounts that they would access from this one computer. Also on the Google blog one of their engineering directors made a post on how to access two gmail accounts within the same browser, whereby he even states he has more than one gmail account, and goes on to show everyone else how to do the same.
http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/access-two-gmail-accounts-at-once-in.html
 
+Archangel Amael Not when things go wrong – the process for actually getting anything approaching real user support is often extremely difficult. For example, if you're locked out of your gmail account and you look for help from google, you get: http://support.google.com/accounts/bin/topic.py?topic=25796 -- with two support options: 1) ask other users in a forum 2) go through an automated system that is opaque and not comprehensive – with no way to actually reach someone at google. It has clearly been constructed to make sure that users are not able to "bother" them with their problems. Of course, the whole story changes if you're a paying account holder through google apps for businesses – but there's no similar options for individuals.

But that's okay because it's a free service, right? Well.. not in my book.

First, when you aim to make your services truly essential to users, free or not, it becomes even more imperative that you do your best to support them and work with them, even in the cases like this where the account is clearly in violation of the TOS.

Second, it's bad business to distance yourself from actual user interaction. Automated metrics tell a lot, but they don't let you have empathy for your users.
 
Can't you just claim that you're the account owner and your daughter has been using it in supervised situations?
 
+Ted Pollari That was part of my frustration. The only option I have is to provide proof of age. There are no customer service numbers. No "Contact Us" links. No way to ask other questions or get additional information. It is very frustrating.
 
Google has the smarts (and the data) to do better. Jillian Tett: Men, women – and machines!
 
+Ted Pollari I am sure it would be a logistical nightmare to try and provide some help desk (real live person on the phone) service for the potential billions of Google users, just to help with a locked account. I'm pretty sure no company is going to go out, find, hire, train, and then pay someone to try and verify whether or not someone actually is the true owner of any given account and then provide a means for them to reset or unlock said account. Also I don't see this so called distancing by google from it's users. I mean on this very page, in the lower right hand corner is a box where people can send feedback about G+ The same feedback link is on just about every google product that I've ever used. While it may not be the best, again it costs them less money than say having people waiting at a desk for me to call and say I don't care for the color scheme or some other nonsense. I would also (and do use apps for business) expect more for something that I actually pay for.
 
+Rich Warren I hear ya – it's extremely frustrating, I would imagine (I've never been through anything similar), but this is also why I continue to pay for a different email provider and mostly use my gmail account via pop/imap (hence I get local copies). Sometimes it's worth paying for that on which we depend.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not faulting you, just encouraging an exodus, regardless of the outcome of this situation.
 
+Archangel Amael Logistical nightmare? Hardly. Help doesn't have to mean phone support. A good email or chat interface is many times a great line of contact. Now, can they do that? Absolutely. As it stands, they tell you to talk to other users. It's the blind leading the blind – and then you find out that there are some users in the form that "have connections" and if you appease them, they might pull strings for you – but it all seems very very sketchy.

Back to the email support idea -- one of Google's competitors does it (others likely do too, I just didn't look beyond one): https://io.help.yahoo.com/contact/index?locale=en_US&y=PROD_ACCT&page=contact

Now, let's assume you're right: if their scaling plan was to intentionally not offer support in order to scale, then they are explicitly distancing themselves from their users so that they can scale. If they failed to account for that as they scaled, then they themselves are responsible for the distance between them and their users. Size is not a justification for a lack of empathy and connection with your users.
 
Add +Sarah Price to your circle and drop a comment in one of her posts (subtly of course, don't spam her). She is the Community Manager for Gmail. And see if she can get you a backup of your data. I've read all the comments so far and I still don't believe you are in the right. For as long as I remember most email services ask for your age. I am 99% sure Gmail always asked for it. Regardless, when you are ready to formulate solutions to your current problem; getting your child's data out and getting a TOS friendly account set up for child, drop a question in Gmail's forums or nothingtoinstall.com (This is a Q&A site with a small group with some knowledge on Gmail and Google services). But first try the Community Manager (+Sarah Price ) route first then Google forums.

Good luck.
 
Don't be upset, american, the USA kind, are just very stupid!
 
Free service or not, it should make no difference. (Isn't it funny how there is are always a few folk around who want to point out to us we should not have expected any better, or there was a warning in the small print, or since we're not paying we should expect to be treated like dirt? Never mind that the headline message is "great free email for everbody!". I guess it must make them feel better somehow.)

What I find interesting is that there are many many corporations that will pay serious money to reach their 'customers of the future' while they are still young. Think of burger chains putting sponsorship into schools, or software companies providing cheap office software to students. "Catch 'em early and keep 'em for life" is the thinking. So Google has a golden opportunity here, yet is driving these kids off to Hotmail, Yahoo and the rest. Google's never been that great at marketing, but this is anti-marketing. If I was at Mountain View I would make it a priority to introduce child-friendly services.
 
I am a huge Google fan and many of its products, including GMail and I am all for respecting regulations and agreements. But, I am frankly disturbed by people that want to lecture a father that is already in distress because of the situation with his daughter. +Rich Warren just had something that would have at a minimum annoyed any good father. So, regulations or not regulations, if you don't agree with Rich, please at least have the decorum to not patronize and lecture him, unless you can offer to help him, lectures are IMHO pointless and just pile more distress on Rich in this case. Just my two cents.
 
+Rich Warren This is such a "First world problem". You didn't comply with Google rules, so tell me what did you expect?
News time tell you daughter, Daddy didn't follow the rules. "It's importat to follow the rules".
Know the difference between appetite and hunger.
WAKE UP!!!
ps: i've read exactly the same history not 6 months ago.
 
+Rich Warren Watch the ad again--the account created is "dear.sophie.lee@gmail.com" which, from a liability point of view, is probably quite a bit different than "sophie.lee@gmail.com." The main user of the account is the father, and the daughter doesn't even look at it until she is quite a bit older than 13. Under Google's rules, you are welcome to create an account which you send mail to called your daughter's name, as long as she isn't the user.
 
How did they find out the account was being used by someone under age?
 
+Danny Dulai - I have no idea. I asked her if she entered her birthday for anything, or if she had signed up for any new Google tools. She says she hasn't.

Of course, she's not supposed to sign up for things without my permission. And she's usually pretty good about checking with me before she puts any info online.
 
+Miles Skorpen As I understand it, COPPA's doesn't restrict the child's ability to use websites at all. It's all about restricting the website's ability to record information about a child. In this example, Google will record the same information whether or not Sophie reads it. So, I'm not sure where it would fall legally.

However, I am sure that the commercials are misleading. A number of people (including a number of prominent tech news sites) criticized them for promoting something that Google's TOS didn't allow. If a significant number of people misunderstand you, then there's probably something wrong with your message.

In a similar way, I was not aware of the age restriction until the Sophie commercials came up, and the resulting commentary popped up across the web. I don't remember being told that there was an age restriction. I don't remember being asked my age when I set up the account.

Now, if it was just me, I'd blame my faulty memory. But it's not. If you do a search, you can find many, many other parents who have had the same experience, and who have the same complaints. Most of them don't remember ever being asked for the birth date either. Most were not aware of the age restriction.

Clearly, something is wrong with the way Google presents their age restrictions. It's far to common of a problem.
 
I am increasingly inclined to think that they are doing her a favor by excluding her from using their products. I am starting to wonder if I would do better if they would just cut me off as well.
 
#firstworldproblems JK. I guess it is horrible to lock anybody out of the data. If they want to block somebody's access because of minor ToS violations they should atleast have the option to download the data. But, in the long run you should use Thunderbird or Outlook and one of the blog writer tools so that your precious data is in your computer and not in Google's servers alone.
 
It's ironic that you're posting this on Google+.
 
Why do you blame Google if you have not spent a minute to read the ToS?
 
I travel all the time for work and send my daughter emails everyday I am gone (I call also). I started sending stuff to her when she was 5. She is now 8. Guess what, it was all wiped thanks to this. Thanks Google. You should have warned us at least so I could move the email off. Majorly lame.
 
So much for "Don't be evil"...

Hey Nate Tuganov, WHICH ToS you referring too? It's changed dozens of times in the last few years. You referring to the one in place when the account was created?
 
+Jesse Raleigh When ToS is being changed, all users are obligated to accept new ToS or decline the service. Your answer is on the first page #2.3.
 
It's a free e-mail service. Instead of complaing, Rich, why don't ya just create a new account and list her age as 18 or over. If she's crying over a blocked e-mail account, I'm guessing she has bigger problems than that.
 
Yet you post it on google plus?
 
Ok haven't read all the comments, nor have I really read the entire original post. I had setup a gmail account in my daughter's name she is under 13, everything was fine until I tried to set her up with a google+ account, THEN they deactivated it. All I had to do to recover it was enter my CC info to verify my age, I just used my debit card, they didn't charge anything, or maybe $1 but it reactivated my daughter's account with the express point that I as her father was allowing her to use it. She still can't get google+ though was a restriction, until she is 13 or older.
 
+Shauna Davis please learn to use the +1 button.
+Kurt Varner actually it's not ironic, in fact it makes a lot of sense. Obviously he likes google's services otherwise he wouldn't use them, and if you're going to complain on a social network about a companies policies, they're more likely to notice it on their own network rather than someone else's. Although I personally think he's the one at fault here, I see the logic in using Google's own services to try and fix the situation.
 
Right, a script with a 3 year cron job setting? They did something new that was drastic and did not think it was necessary to warn anybody.
 
The content between who and what is irrelevant here (be it grandparent letters, illegal content or whatever else). You knowingly and willingly broke the TOS (no matter how draconian or silly the terms may be) and are upset at the actions they took? Its a mistake on your part for signing up here and not backing up this content elsewhere (hey if it was that important after all...).
 
Regardless of google's stance on all of this, I think it might be a cool idea for them to set up specific gmail accounts for minors. One in which a parent account can lock down who the minor can send/receive mail from. So that your daughter can email her family members in a safe environment. Think about it google, everyone loves people who love children!
 
I am disappointed, Google should give you the opportunity to make a backup (translated by google translate en Brazil)
 
They made a choice, yes. Just as you chose to make this complaint public, instead of just asking them about this and seeing what they have to say in response, or how they could offer to fix the situation.
 
"Google has the ability to restore recently deleted emails (there was a piece in The Atlantic detailing this) thus i'd push for a resolution asap before the backups are overwritten."

Was anyone else reading that article taken aback to read the concept email restoration at gmail was a 1/4 time side project of only two engineers?
 
Hmm, I'm stuck with where I stand on this one. Do I think it is a bit ridiculous that Google has this in their ToS, yes. But it is part of the ToS, is a free service and Google does have to protect themselves... I have to go with Google on this one, I'm sorry. However there are other solutions for you, like have her write an email from your account.
 
We need Data Liberation to add the ability to download our emails.
 
I do wish they could find a different way to handle things, but at the risk of sounding unsympathetic, it's probably not very cost efficient. There may even be legal reasons they don't help or disclose info from a terminated account.
 
As I recall the TOS (y'know that thing you scrolled down and mindlessly clicked 'agree') state that you are not allowed to have your own Google account if under 13. I'm going to take a wild guess and posit that your daughter enabled Google plus and filled out a profile to keep up with her friends. And then, bam fills out a birthday that is below what Google has said is acceptable. Google wasn't 'magically reading' everything your daughter was writing, nor were they in violation of a child protection act that you don't understand. And while I'm sure you have a brilliant legal mind "you made my daughter cry so I'm gonna sue you" is not actually a valid legal argument. The TOS also states that if you are in violation of said TOS Google can immediately freeze your account. My advice is to seriously reconsider the wisdom of giving a person of your daughter's age an open forum on the internet to blog her innermost thoughts and desires and think about why Google might have an age limit.
TL;DLR You broke the TOS and are now mad that you got caught breaking the TOS
 
+Nate Tuganov reading TOS in a minute? Must be Einstein-style. Even reading it will take much more then a minute. Understanding it fully will take much more then this. Such things should be clear without reading TOS.

And I'm not mentioning that TOS refers many other documents. If you read them all then you either is a Google lawyer either you have got too much free time.

p.s. It sucks like this #google
 
Ditto. Happened to my daughter 2 years ago.
 
+Federico Lebrón I actually wanted to contact Google directly. However, they made that impossible. The notification we received did not have any options for contacting someone. No phone number. No email link. No web form. No way for me to ask additional questions or get additional information.

Remember, my main complaint is HOW Google acted. If they want to deactivate my daughter's account, that's fair. It's there service. But, the way they chose to communicate this (basically just shutting everything off with no warning), and the fact that they're basically holding her data hostage--those are the things that really piss me off.

And, yes. My decision to air this complaint on a Google service was deliberate (I also referenced using Google's search to look for others complaining about the same problem). I could have posted this elsewhere, but I thought this was best.
 
You misunderstand. 3 years and then they blast it. That is the issue, not that it was against the TOS. Seems a bit heavy handed and random.
 
Again, one of my main complaints is how Google chose to go about enforcing their TOS. They could have provided other options (e.g. gathering parental consent, or allowing me to officially move the account under my name). They could have given me some ability to access the data. But they chose to just shut everything off cold with no warning. That, from a customer service perspective, is simply not acceptable.

Think if it this way. If I walk into any other business and make a complaint, the first thing they will do is apologize to me--even if I'm in the wrong. Then they will work with me, try to explain the situation. Try to provide options. Try to help me get what I want (or at least as close as I can get). This is basic customer service, and yet Google has done none of these things.

And, yes. I strongly feel that we are Google's customers, and we deserve to be treated like customers--not like a resource to be exploited.

It doesn't matter that this is a "free" service. If I walk into a store, I expect to be treated with respect--even if I never purchase anything. More importantly, Gmail is only "free" in the most narrowly-defined sense of the term. There is an exchange going on here. I pay for Gmail by giving Google access to quite a bit of information about me. This information is valuable.

We deserve better.
 
There is also the fact that when I signed up for her account and put in her Birthday as required Google was quite fine with it. It never said "You know, the TOS requires you to be 13 or older". As I said, it is the nature of the action, not the rules.
 
+Rich Warren if I can quote +Ryan Schultz "I'm going to take a wild guess and posit that your daughter enabled Google plus and filled out a profile to keep up with her friends. And then, bam fills out a birthday that is below what Google has said is acceptable." As this is exactly what happened to my daughter's account when I tried to enable google+ for her, and they shut it down the instant I put her birth year in. That was my warning, they then gave me a way to reactivate it. I'm going to assume your daughter just started crying to Daddy, "They turned off my account" failing to mention she tried to activate google+ and what was told to her at that time.
 
+Sean Hafeez That's it exactly. She's been using the service without a problem for years. What suddenly changed. And why now? Right before school goes on break. Right when she's struggling to finish a major project (and using Gmail to pass data back and forth from school). Right when she's trying to coordinate winter break activities with her friends. It sucks.
 
+Rick Bruno She doesn't even know what Google+ is.

Well, she does now, since I showed her this post and the reactions to it. But no, as far as I can tell she didn't do anything. I'm not sure what triggered it.

Having said that, signing up for Google+ is how a lot of people got into trouble.

This seems to be a really common problem. Apparently a lot of parents want to set up gmail accounts for their kids. You'd think Google would take advantage of this market. But, no....
 
"I didn't properly read the Terms of Service and now I'm upset at Google because of my own mistake!"
 
You made your daughter cry, not Google.
 
I really feel with you Rick and I agree that this is totally unacceptable. Google needs to answer to this and also find a much better response model for the future than simply "disable whole account" with no warning or prior communication. I'd be pissed too if it were to happen to me or my (future) kids! I'd probably think about alternatives to Google instantly too, then sadly realize that there is no real alternative. But this is typical of Google, for good and for bad: they really rock at a lot of things and really suck at a few - not much in-between. How I would be happy if they would root out in their bad tendencies thoroughly...
 
How dare they take away their free providing software that they worked so hard on. Damn the algorithm and programs for doing what they were programmed to do. How dare a robot not think outside what it was programmed for. Yes there was probably someone at a desk eating a donut looking at your daughters blog and clicked a button to make it go "bye-bye"</insert_tone_of_sarcasm>. Gotta side with Google :-/
 
FWIW thank you for bringing this to light. I'm a new dad who's going to keep this in mind when my daughter is old enough to be interested in email, etc. I also think I'm going to move my data to a server of my own, just to be safe.
 
Yes, there should have been a warning. However, you're using a FREE service with rules. As for Grandparent's letters, they may still have them in their sent file. They could print them off for your daughter and she could keep them in a pretty little box. Better yet, they could start writing her letters to keep forever. I still cherish letters WRITTEN by my Grandmother. Kids these days will eventually only be able to say to their children, "And I got this email from my Grandfather way back in 2011!" That's what she should be crying about. Contact Google, be nice (flies with honey) and see if they will help you out.
 
That's really bad. There's no reason why they couldn't give you a few days to transfer your data. Every time I hear about this sort of thing it makes me worry about what I might lose (no matter how careful I am at backing up) if Google accidentally shut my account.
 
We aren't the customers, we are the product. The real customers are the companies buying ads.
 
I don't know you, but I'm giving this +1 and a Share because a public relations backlash is the fastest way to get Google to do right by you. Good luck!
 
What does free have to do with not being a customer? Are you saying that if every single user stopped using gmail, google would be better off? Or does google get something from having users? Google doesn't provide gmail as a charity. Let google announce that its users are not customers and let's see what happens to their value.
 
I love Google, but it's things like these :'(
 
I had to say my 10 yr old is 20 so her ipod touch would work properly. I feel for you, you should be entitled to your data if nothing else.
 
+Martyn Drake, Some of the data is backed up locally. I had her using a mail client through IMAP originally--but I think she shifted to using the web interface. That's what they use at school, and she got used to it.

Yes, I can get most of the information from current friends and family. The problem is contacting friends that she doesn't see every day. We moved a year ago, and she has a lot of friends that she just kept contact with through email. I hope we can find all those old email addresses.

This wouldn't have been so bad if it was shut off at the beginning. Or after using it for only a week or a month. But after using it for YEARS? That's pretty harsh.
 
1) Des anyone else find it funny that Google is being complained about on Google +?

2) Not that this matters much, but if your daughter is not even 13 yet, shouldn't you be nurturing her to play outside and use her imagination instead of using the computer? Write hand-written letters to grand-parents. The art of snail-mail letters is fading, and that kind of sucks because I remember getting mail as a kid and it made my day. There is something special about receiving a letter in the mail. Her account got deleted, and yes that sucks. But maybe you should teach her how to not be dependent on computers and let her do that on her own when she becomes a teenager? This technological world has lost all face-to-face significance, where people would rather text than meet up for coffee. So just wait a bit bro. Not having a gmail account will not hurt your daughter's future in the world.
 
It's totally unacceptable that they did something like this? They explicitly state in the TOS that they will close your account and that they're not responsible in any way for data loss, if you break the conditions that they have set out for using their service.
TL;DR If you're too stupid to understand that if they find out that you broke the TOS, they can can close the account(as stated in the TOS), then please leave the Internet,
 
You're complaining about customer service when you're not a customer. Your daughter was not a customer. They're giving you a free service. Sure, it sucks that they didn't notify you, or that they didn't give you any other options. You're making a huge fuss about such a ridiculously small issue. The worst thing that's going to happen is that your daughter won't get those letters back. Darn.
 
@Karl Anderson: #2 - So your solution to the problem is to avoid Google altogether? The issue at stake is not allowing the OP's daughter get the information is already there -- past letters from grandparents. Your argument is somewhat valid but does not address the issue of historical data.

It'd be NICE if good allowed you to sign in and get your data -- at LEAST - rather than just locking the account from sign-in.
 
I would think that they could come up with some sort of joint account access. Similar to the style that a bank runs with opening checking accounts for the younger generation. Say... your underage, your required to give access to an account that is of age. This wont prevent people from lying about information but would certainly help Mom/Dad legitametly give their kids access to Google and all of its features.
 
If a product is free, you are what's being sold. Also #firstworldproblems
 
Welcome to the side of Google that everyone and anyone who has ever used AdWords knows all too well. This is sadly not new behavior, but business as usual for Google.
 
Google....disappoints me. Social engineering my way to some sort of tech support on the phone every single time i have a technical issue in regards to google apps for business is something not everyone knows how to do. They make things so difficult. I have a good friend who works at google. He says they dont believe in technical support for their products. They believe its something you are doing wrong as opposed to what they are doing wrong.
 
Welcome to the 21st century man. I know it sucks that your daughter lost important conversations with her grandparents, but in this age of technology and cloud computing, these corporations can do what ever they want and they are so powerful that excessive action is required to get them to listen and correct their wrongs, and hopefully not repeat the wrongs. Perhaps use this instance as a lesson to teach her the importance of actual mail and voice communication, as well as the inherent dangers of online hosting. This may sound paranoid to many people, but I'm no crotchety old man. I'm a 20 year old college student who isn't completely caught up in hosting my life on the internet. The internet can be cut off at a moments notice. Imagine your and your daughter's life's collection of photos and letters all taken from your possession if the servers go down, even if only for a couple of days. I really don't understand why people aren't more resistant to cloud computing....
 
If the girl is not wise enough to enter a fake name and birth date on her accounts, she is not really ready to be a responsible internet user.

If I were you, I would explain the great dangers and great benefits of the web, and explain that she is not what society considers to be ready for the internet. Feel free to explain that she has her own choice and that if she wants to access services that she "shouldn't" she will need to break the rules.

To clarify; It is certainly bullshit that young people can not make these decisions themselves. I do think that internet literacy should be a required class that is taught at an early age. Internet literacy is one of the most important (Valuable) skills a person could learn.
 
Google has a TV commercial setting up a Gmail account for his newborn daughter and then sending her stories, pics and videos about her life - presumably to access when she's older!!!!!!!
 
Host your own email. Google is not a place you should expect to keep things long term. And also you can make email accounts for children that don't even exist yet!
 
+Steve Logan False advertising, especially since Apps accounts are paid for. What are they going to do when I sue their asses off after buying my newborn a Google Apps Premium account and they shut it off? I've got this false advertising claim to support me now.
 
+Rich Warren

> I have no idea. I asked her if she entered her birthday for anything, or if she had signed up for any new Google tools. She says she hasn't.

To me, that is the most insidious part of the whole ordeal. Are they monitoring her emails?
 
When you set up her account (applies to anyone in this thread that did the same thing) you violated Google's Terms of Service. By not providing the correct information, mean BIRTHDAY, they do have the power to shut off your account. I never thought that I would see so many idiots on Google+. I thought this stupidity was saved for Facebook. Also, Why is anyone that is not at least in High School need an email account anyway. GO BE A CHILD DAMN IT.
 
Aren't the emails still in the grandparents email client?
 
I am sorry for the loss of your data, I hope some of it isn't irreplaceable.

Nevertheless, I'm inclined to post here about why I do not trust Google, or any other cloud-based computing entity. I trust Google with my e-mail, and I do so extremely hesitantly. If I could easily set up my own e-mail server and use that, I would in a heartbeat -- as it stands, I'm still researching ways to do this.

I'm sure that I come across as insensitive, but you're empowering Google to do this kind of crap by using their products and services -- all of which are hosted online, and oftentimes offered at "no cost" to the user. The trouble is, there is a cost -- it's just not a monetary one. You don't have control of your data because, for some reason, you think it wise to trust a for-profit corporation that is known to mine through personal data at an unparalleled level of detail. You are forgoing your privacy and your data by handing them the keys in the first place.
olam ng
 
Google didn't implement it in a friendlier way because they had compliance issues. And probably going to get a daily fine when audits begin. When they get fined by the auditors, is your attitude going to change by paying for your daughter's portion of the fine?

Point made here is are you able to argue for both sides of the situation? Until one is able to, one does not understand the gravity of the choices Google has made.

That said, google those emails are likely not wiped and can be accessed once the restriction requirements are lifted.
 
same exact thing happened with my daughter.
 
If you're not paying for it, don't expect ANYTHING.
 
Hey John Nelson, when you have children, then come back and comment, Until then please shut up. Some of us have to come up with creative ways to communicate with our children because we unfortunately have to deal with "the other parent" who makes it impossible to communicate with our children, something you probably know nothing about and good for you, I wouldn't wish those unfortunate circumstances on anyone. Now please, go back to taking terrible pictures of yourself and exit this conversation. Thanks.
 
If you don't pay for it, your terms of use are "at will". Google is bigger than any one person and they don't need the legal hassles that potentially can arise. Sorry you feel victimized but try to see it from their point of view.
 
You shouldn't blame Google for this. The fault lies with COPPA and the horrendous ways in which it makes companies enforce COPPA violations. COPPA should be modified or repealed -- it's original purpose (getting parents involved in kids' online experience) has been lost, and now it simply prevents children from effectively using the Internet.
 
I agree with Evan - the blame is not on Google's shoulders but rather on COPPA.
 
Next time instead of just signing up for a service, try reading the terms of service for the service you signed up for.
 
i develop apps for android and the same thing happened to me. I got a crypic email saying my account has been disabled and I waited weeks without a reply. I started a new account and relisted my apps and have not had a problem since.
 
Does this also mean that you must be 13+ to use and Android phone or tablet? Way to compete with the iPod Touch market.
 
Didn't Google even have an ad about a dad setting up a google account for his new born daughter so that one day she could look at the the info google chronicled about her life?
 
I signed up for my gmail account in 2004, back when it was invite only. Years ago. Being the anal retentive person that I am, I keep a copy of the TOS for every site that I sign up for on a thumb drive, so that I can compare now to then.

Then:

2. Accepting the Terms

2.1 In order to use the Services, you must first agree to the Terms. You may not use the Services if you do not accept the Terms.

2.2 You can accept the Terms by:

(A) clicking to accept or agree to the Terms, where this option is made available to you by Google in the user interface for any Service; or

(B) by actually using the Services. In this case, you understand and agree that Google will treat your use of the Services as acceptance of the Terms from that point onwards.

2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google, or (b) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services.

2.4 Before you continue, you should print off or save a local copy of the Universal Terms for your records.
Now:


2. Accepting the Terms

2.1 In order to use the Services, you must first agree to the Terms. You may not use the Services if you do not accept the Terms.

2.2 You can accept the Terms by:

(A) clicking to accept or agree to the Terms, where this option is made available to you by Google in the user interface for any Service; or

(B) by actually using the Services. In this case, you understand and agree that Google will treat your use of the Services as acceptance of the Terms from that point onwards.

2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google, or (b) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services.

2.4 Before you continue, you should print off or save a local copy of the Universal Terms for your records.


Section 2.3 is the interesting part.

I fail to see how any of this is googles fault. it's your own negligence that is at fault, setting your daughter up for a service that she wasn't following the terms and conditions for.
 
+Robby Pond, Yes, I think it does. Chromebooks as well.

You know what a lot of my daughter's classmates are getting for Christmas?

Smart phones.
 
Lesson I learned from all these fiascos: Richard Stallman is right. He said not to trust google/whatever with your data blindly, and now here is ONE example of many problems that can be caused by it.

I use AeroFS for synchronizing my documents. This way nobody other than me stores my private data. Across computers I will use it to synchronize. When my daughter needs to have documents and sync them, she will store it using AeroFS and/or possibly dropbox. Google can do all the shit it wants, it won't get to my daughter's documents. This is why Google Docs is a no-go for me.
 
Wow, how horrible. Hopefully with all the attention this is getting you'll get some resolution.
 
Maybe you shouldn't of broken your Terms of Service? Hopefully you tell your daughter that you made a mistake.
 
Even if these weren't in the ToS to begin with, most people with some legal knowledge would include the right to change these at any given time. However, they could have been less asshole-y about it and given a warning before.
 
Doesn't Google run a commercial about a father making a Gmail account for his unborn daughter. Then using it while she's a baby? Seems like this is exactly what happened here. Why would they disable the account if there were no harm in it?
 
They are just doing their job. Before you jump to conclusions about their actions, you need to think about the position Google is in during these times on the internet. No warning needs to be necessary (you broke the ToS), everyone remembers AOL and Netscape, if you were under 18 you had no privileges what so ever, everything had to be approved by your adult linked to your account and you had extreme limitations to the sites in which you could visit. Being her father, you should know that the web is not a safe place for an underage child, especially a female. Google is just helping you do your job. So no, Google did not make your daughter cry. You did sir. Good job. (and fyi on those emails from grandma, they are stored on her account too.)
 
I think there are two sides to this; there is a legal side and a moral side. Legally, Google is totally correct, no question. Just like a landlord is entitled to throw out a tenant for paying the rent late, etc. Morally... well, that's not so simple, but sometimes is still important. After all, Google's motto was "Do no evil".

The issue here is not whether Google had a right to disable the account. The issue is the method they used, and the fact that they did not give the user any way to get their stuff. If you get evicted from your home, how would you feel if the owner did not allow you to collect your belongings? After all, it is legal to forbid you to enter the premises - so, what if your belongings were cleared out, put in storage, and an exorbitant fee was charged for you to get them (assuming there may be a law that they can't just dispose of them)?

Now, I'm wondering how many of you always read the TOS every time you sign up for something. I personally often look it over, but if I trust the company, and especially when the TOS is many pages, I just scroll down and agree. I think most people do the same. It might be a mistake, especially in some cases (like this), but people make mistakes all the time. Taking advantage of someone who made a mistake is generally not going to make you popular whether you break any laws or not.
 
+Scott Duffy Lets think paper. You write letters back and fourth to your grandparents and have a whole stack of them. Then, one day, they spontaneously combust. All those letters between you and your grandparents are gone. You can never go back and read them again. That would make any kid that loved their grandparents cry in sadness/loss, not frustration. Surprise surprise, some kids have emotional attachments to their grandparents and interactions between them.

Your thought process wipes out like 70% of pre internet romantic movies.
 
You can get it turned back on, but you need to send a notice of consent to google.
http://www.coppa.org/comply.htm
google is completely correct in their actions. the guidelines do not give them ANY leniency. there are steps to correct this, but you as a parent need to step up and take responsibility for the childs actions online.

you're probably the 10th person I've seen file this complaint in the last 6 months. But you do seem to have a smarter head on your shoulders than most. So separate the emotional part of the situation, step up and be a parent, and do the correct thing. Contact google and find out what form you need to fill out for consent, and your daughter can get her account back.
 
+Yahia Hegazy If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer, you're the product being sold. Facebook is exactly the same way.
 
I don't want to be "that guy", but you said "You don't just cut of a customer's access to their data without any warning. That's simply not acceptable." What exactly they supposed to do? "We see you have violated the terms and conditions, so we're going to close your account... next week." Remember, with the information they gather they are LEGALLY REQUIRED to disable access to the account immediately to be COPPA compliant.

It's stupid to expect that a service which is offered to you for free (exchanging information for the service does not mean it is not free), and without any guarantee as to the availability of your data, will be accessible to you forever. Somehow Google (who undoubtedly closes thousands of accounts a day for this exact reason) is expected to give you a warning, a chance to get your data, to be allowed to continue using the service in direct violation of the ToS, etc.

You have every right to expect them to honour the ToS, and they have every right to expect you to. If you wanted your data safely stored away, you should have made backups. It sucks that it was data that was special to you for one reason or another, but that doesn't mean that Google has to make it available to you. You violate the ToS, they take away the account, you whine. That's what just happened.
 
If your pissed at google you should have posted this on teh Facebook ;)
 
+Wayne Burgess, if this is true, then it's not clear. The only option given in the notification from Google is to verify my daughter's age. Obviously I can't do that.

I could try to use my own name and age to verify the account, but I'm a little afraid that might cause even more problems at this point.

Actually, according to Google, parental consent isn't sufficient:

"Under our policies, Google doesn't allow users who are under the age of 13 to have Google Accounts, unless they are using Google Apps for
Education accounts through their school. This is similar to a lot of
online services, as it's very complicated for many providers to offer
better solutions for children that meet the relevant regulations. It's
not as simple as just asking a parent for consent to let their child
have an account - there are associated implications for data and privacy involved. "
 
+Rob Sterkenburg That was exactly my point Google isn't afforded any leniency from the COPPA, Therefore they cannot afford to give Rich and his daughter any leniency either. I feel for him. I do. My kids live out of state, the most communication I get is through email only.
 
+Rob Sterkenburg, They may have had no choice but to disable the account--but, they did have a lot of choice on how they decided to present the situation, and what options they offered to help resolve it.

Did they give me any contact information so I could get my questions answered? No.

Did they provide me with options on how to get this resolved? Not really. The only option they presented was to verify my daughter's age.

Did they explain the problem? Not really. Their explanation raises more questions than it answers.

For example, if Google can validate child accounts for Education, why can't they provide the same service to consenting parents? There appear to be a large number of us. I'm sure we'd all be willing to jump through a few hoops to get this resolved properly.

If the regulations really are such a problem, what's Google doing to solve it? More importantly, how can we (parents who would like their children to use Google products) help?

If the age restriction is so important, why wasn't it made more clear when we signed up for the account? Like many parents caught in this situation, I don't remember being asked for an age when I created the account. I don't remember being told about the age restriction.

Also, if this is such a huge problem, why was she able to use the account for 3 years before having it shut down?

There's a lot that Google could do to better manage the situation. And, no. I don't give them a pass just because they aren't charging us money, or because they chose to hide these restrictions in the small print.

Clearly, I'm not the only one upset about this.
 
+Rich Warren Here's my recommendation. Most people who are going to abuse the system aren't going to fight for it either. I must admit to some ignorance because I've not looked into it heavily since the late 90's. My memory isn't what it used to be, and a brief rescan over the link I gave you saws there was some changed in 2000.

It used to be that you could contact the company in question to find out what needed to be done to get it turned back on. Some companies would you allow you sign a disclaimer that said that you took full responsibility of your child's actions while they are online. You take the fall for anything the child does. Then they'd turn it back on.

You were using some of the blogging tools for school projects, it could be argued that it was being used for education reasons. If nothing else find out if they are willing to archive and send you the email exchanged. Probably not since verification is a difficult problem but it's worth a shot.

I worried about this being an issue, I bought a domain and run my mail through it for my kids, it was cheap.. ish, and I don't need to worry about ToS.
 
If your data in on Google's servers, its not your data. Data is not something you own. You cannot upload a bunch of crap to a hosting company's server then demand you can access the server after not paying since its "your data". Sorry but your are SOL. Welcome to the cloud, back all your data up locally.
 
I didn't read all the comments, but I got a sense of the passion from many.
For all the people saying 'but you're not a customer, you're the product', fine but the perception is that we are customers, because Google pitches their ideas and visions to us. It's a moot point.

For those who expect Google to care about single individuals, please get real.

For the lost emails to/from Grandma, that truely sad, but presumably they are also in Grandma's account?

For everyone else, take note, all the 'life' we store in Google is at risk. Not a huge likelihood of loss, but considerable consequence.
Setup Thunderbird on your computer, and periodically download your emails.

Don't leave it up to a big corp to care about your data.
 
OMG just go to hotmail or something "problem solved", tell your dad that she changed her email and tell them how google sucks, and for all those complainers, take it like it is, get smart and get your own EMAIL SERVER so in that way is your POLICIES not theirs......and same time still enjoying the technology that google provide us for FREE
 
It took over a year, but eventually my YouTube account got re-enabled after a similar disappearance (just for TOS violation; not anything COPPA related); and all my videos survived in tact.

I doubt Google is ignoring you, they just have an incredible volume of accounts to review personally, and that takes time.

Just stay in touch through whatever means you have available, and I'm sure Google will help you out eventually.

--

I was always under the impression though that you could send in a waiver for an underage child to use a web service. I'm no COPPA expert but I seem to recall when I was under 13 that you had the option to mail or fax in a form of consent. It's a shame that Google doesn't have some means of doing this.
 
+Martyn Drake Yeah Google's customer's support is part of where the problem is at. That and Google's seemingly harsh/inflexible decisions sometimes. Such as when I was asked to link my Youtube account with my Gmail account without putting enough (or any) emphasis upon the fact that is was to be permanent and with no way to change the youtube username. I really wish they would've made it clear. And it's just next to impossible to get any kind of support. And the closest thing they have to support is the help forums with the top contributors as you mention. But these people are usually just Google enthusiasts and some of them have contacts within Google. I can see how Google can't afford an army of supporters on phone/email, but they should be able to solve the problem somehow inventively because well.. they're Google! :-)


Two points I wish to emphasize:
1. Google is amazing and they're doing a lot of things right.

2. People saying it's a free product = you have no rights and/or no right to complain = bullshit. They get our personal data in return which is how they target their adds and make a profit. Personal data is valuable. We trust them with our personal data. This is fine. But it's by no means a free product - it's something for something. And if a company claim to deliver a service and you trust them with personal data, you're by all means entitled to complain - although in this case it's not clear cut because of the broken ToS.

They should still provide a way for the guy to save his daughter's information. The problem I have is that she's apparently been allowed somehow to use the account for at least around a year before the account is terminated. Either their algorithms must recognize a simple ToS-age violation immediately or an automatic response must be something less harsh than an immediate disabling of the account. Allowing for the possible scenario where an honest less-than-13 aged user to use a Google account for at least around a year and then disabling it without warning is just bad user friendliness.
 
+Gandalf Saxe, I agree with you 100%. Those are exactly the points I've been trying to make.
 
+Michael Tabolsky, Um, what was fast? If you're talking about the response form the Washington Post article, they didn't really say anything new--or helpful.

No, Google hasn't contacted me.
 
That is absolutely terrible... but don't you think it's a little silly to complain about google on google+?
 
+Rich Warren - "For example, if Google can validate child accounts for Education, why can't they provide the same service to consenting parents? There appear to be a large number of us. I'm sure we'd all be willing to jump through a few hoops to get this resolved properly.

If the regulations really are such a problem, what's Google doing to solve it? More importantly, how can we (parents who would like their children to use Google products) help?"

You're being a little too entitled here. Google does not need (or even want) your underage daughter. I understand that you feel a little miffed here, but from Google's side, there's no benefit for them for letting you sign up your underage daughter, and there's little reason why they NEED to let you sign up your underage daughter.

--

"If the age restriction is so important, why wasn't it made more clear when we signed up for the account? Like many parents caught in this situation, I don't remember being asked for an age when I created the account. I don't remember being told about the age restriction."

Just because you don't remember it doesn't mean that it didn't happen. Gmail does require you to input your DOB when you sign up for an account, and won't let you sign up for an account if you're underage. You more than likely forgot that you entered the DOB, and a fake DOB to boot.

--

"Also, if this is such a huge problem, why was she able to use the account for 3 years before having it shut down?"

Because it only just discovered that the account user was underage. Asking this question is like asking why a drug dealer was able to deal drugs for so long before getting caught.
 
+Rich Warren, you hit the nail on the head:

'Just because I don't give them money, doesn't mean I'm not paying for the service. There is an implicit agreement here. Google gives me email, in exchange they have access to a lot of information about me. That information has a lot of value.'

In fact, most people probably wouldn't pay them what they say privacy is worth.
 
How about you stop using their products? I notice this is all written on google plus, if you really hate them so much don't use it.
 
I'm about to buy an Android tablet for my son, who is 5... How should I create his account? How can I buy a paid app from the Android Market, for example?
 
To me this is a bad lesson to have been taught. +Rich Warren I agree with you. When a company does something you feel is wrong you should be able to talk about it, post about it, and hopefully change their policies. If government was run the same way some of these posters have talked about (like just because google says so) then we would all be living in China. Revolution. I have had similar problems with youtube where I cannot get support for usernames and accounts. When you do try to call they simply say "we currently do not offer live support for that product" What kind of crap is that?
Anyway I agree the rules have to change. Google needs to listen to the 1% of user's that have issues like this... but we also need to remember that they do own the data... it is not ours. They don't have to give it back. Backups or self hosted services will save you from this grief.

I also believe that my 4yr olds gmail account that I setup with a pre-paid card so he could buy items off of the android market should never get cut off. As +Rich Warren said I am the parent. I decided he could play Kung-Fu Panda and buy in-app stuff if he wants. I monitor all of his use, including gmail and if his account was deleted I would demand a refund for all of the games I could no longer access through the cloud.

+Google Please make a change. Remember your users. Provide an email address for every service where you at least have a human read over it.

Rant Out.
 
On the comment (two forevers ago) about us not being customers: if we weren't customers Google would not have any need to have us sign up for a "free" email account. It's all about advertising, not accounts. Chances are they could access a lot of information from the web anyway. The ONLY way Google makes money is with charging advertisers by the click or by the impression for their ads. This means more money for them when more people see them, thus they offer free services to bring you to the ads. So, friends, we are their customers, that's the only reason we're here. Also, give them their stuff back Google then close the account. (So they can start a new one)
 
How about you stop being an idiot and tell her to make her own danm account, or in fact even better possibly lie about her age so none of this would of happened. This is why we have no common sense in America
Sorry but I hate dumb people.
Cliff R
+
2
3
2
 
+Rich Warren

'Just because I don't give them money, doesn't mean I'm not paying for the service. There is an implicit agreement here. Google gives me email, in exchange they have access to a lot of information about me. That information has a lot of value.'

The problem with that statement is that the email wasn't for you and the information (again) wasn't about you... it was of the minor. Yes, it would have been nice for Google to 'reach out' to you. But, honestly, how would they know the contact information would be to a REAL father and not just a name/email address to any Joe Blow?
 
So, you signed up for a FREE account, agreed to THEIR ToS, and now are upset when the ToS has been violated and they close the account?
 
The problem is the COPPA law, not Google's correct implementation of it. How are they supposed to confirm you are her father and not some creeper looking to get a hold of her private information?

Direct your angst at the government, they are the one that passed this law and Google is merely complying with it.

Politicians tell you laws like these are good for you and your kids, that big brother is here to help. You be the judge of whether or not that is the case or not, but don't dare blame Google for complying with the law. That's being ignorant of the problem.
 
Just another hysterical overprotective parent who doesn't think he and his kid should play by the rules. Nothing to see here.
 
Google needs to change its ways with cancellations, this is not only done on Gmail they do the same thing to Android developers. No notice, no reason, app unpublished. No way to ask for an explanation, no way to ask for an appeal.
 
you broke the ToS. so everything you are complaining about is your own fault. learn to play by the rules. perhaps in the future you will learn not to expect special treatment from a free service.
 
That's ridiculous. What else can I say that hasn't been said better already? C'mon Google.
 
It's also an issue with Khan Academy. You can't technically have anyone login under 13 to view the many videos an exercises specifically intended for young kids. Google really needs to do something about this.
 
in all fairness it seems like op is just expressing grief over how google handles account cancellations, not expecting anything [some of u guys are acting like he's suing over this lol]. IMHO: google's business practices are generally 'less evil' than many of their competitors which is part of why i choose g+ over facebook, android over iphone etc. however, negative feedback is useful to companies like google, it helps them develop better more user friendly products. apple fanbois suck bc they take every product/service as canon law. google products (again IMHO) are supposed to be more open, more friendly/free and if google fanbois start citing the tos every-time someone has a critique for google than THEY may as well stop using google services and switch to alternatives more in-line w/ their views
 
Slightly off topic, but a good reminder for people to back up all of their data, not just the stuff on the hard drives. Forward everything to a second account, or open up a desktop email client once a month. I also export all my Google contacts to a spreadsheet every month. 
 
This situation has so many different ways to look at it that the various responses and opinions are flying off in all directions.

Did Google suddenly lock the account after all of these years? Sort of. The reality is, the moment the account was being created (against the TOS), +Rich Warren should have been sweating all of these years, expecting the account to get nuked without notice. It's like deciding to be an owner of a pet ferret in California (where they're illegal). From the moment you make that decision, you face the risk every day of that ferret being taken from you, even if you consider it family by then.

Does Google need to suddenly lock accounts like this? I don't know. If they aren't legally obligated to suddenly lock the account right away, the least they could do is allow access to Google Takeout and provide read-only download-only access to the Gmail account via POP3. That would be a quick short-term solution in lieu of a better one. Perhaps when a user logs into Gmail with a locked account, it could just display a link to Google Takeout, allowing downloads... and could display POP3 information for retrieving emails before everything is fully nuked.

Is +Rich Warren right for acting surprised. Not really. Any surprise at this was due to his own lack of reading the TOS.

Is +Rich Warren right for acting upset. Absolutely. Unless the law explicitly states that Google should instantly lock accounts without warning and even before the data has been purged from their drives, to disallow any downloading or access to this information... this is a case of them going above and beyond the law. The side affect of going above and beyond the law in this case is that they end up with a really really bad customer service experience. It's the difference between saying "Sorry, you're not allowed to have this account. Please download your content as your account will be locked and deleted shortly." versus "Goodbye, sucker!" Just because the law allows them to say "Goodbye, sucker!", this doesn't mean it's good business to do so. Now, if the law requires them to say "Goodbye, sucker!"... well, that's a whole other issue that has nothing to do with Google and everything to do with the law.

Regardless of whether or not +Rich Warren set himself up (or his daughter up) to fail in this way, that doesn't make the experience any less painful for him or his daughter. The world could use a little (or a lot) more empathy in these situations, where people are acting less like tough and heartless Robo-Cops and more like compassionate human beings. Just because you recognize that rules were broken and that Google isn't 100% to blame for this situation doesn't mean you should be incapable of feeling sorrow and frustration on behalf of a fellow human being who has been caught up in a dragnet of human micromanagement that was intended to protect children and, instead, sometimes makes children cry.
 
I am with you!! I cant believe this rubbish, rather than buying domain names for my children i thought it was more important to get their gmail addresses... Effectively i now have to think twice...!
 
I use to think that Google means "Do no Evil", guess they've their own term for being "Evil"
 
Google must seriously think about the kids now. A major number of kids are using Internet these days and their presence can not be ignored. They should start providing Google services to these kids as well.
 
I think there's a bit of inconsistency in the application of their policies. I once had a Google+ account representing a blog and not an individual. I got a warning and was able to take action myself. While there are several differences in the scenario, it doesn't seem right that Google saw fit to warn me in my case and just did what it did with your daughter's account.
 
Sadly, I'm seeing this sort of attitude from Google way too often these days.. just look at how fucked up this site is..I used to be a big Google fan but I'm getting closer and closer to the conclusion that they are too locked up in their fricking super-cool offices and have lost touch with the needs of real, ordinary people. I feel your pain. Hopefully you'll get back your daughter's data!
 
I'm sorry for you and your daughter's problems, and I can't offer you any help as to how to resolve them.

More so, I'm sorry at the lack of empathy and the assholish replies to your thread. All of these folks screaming, "You didn't read the terms of service" or "you violated the terms of service" -- really, you do? I doubt you do -- ever. You're all just seeing an opportunity to scream, "HAHAHAHA I get jerk points for this post!" Terms of service and end user license agreements are almost always skipped over unless they become an obstacle, as they have in this situation. Even if you do read them you have to be a lawyer to understand the implications of everything. Should we read them? Oh, sure, we should. However, I'm more concerned with earning a living and getting my job done and I can't spare the time to read the EULA or ToS of every site I visit or every piece of software I install. I'd get nothing done. Even after reading them you're going to visit them every day to see if they've changed? Good luck with your life.

This lack of empathy in society as a whole is what's making me more and more depressed every day. Google doesn't owe us anything? Not true - on whose backs do you think Google is built? Ours. Who is Google selling to the advertisers that make it a multi billion dollar company? Us. Google owes us everything. You may scream that it owes the individual nothing, but the collective doesn't exist without the individuals. Think beyond the moment and beyond yourself and you'll see it's the truth.

I have great respect for Google and its services but it severely lacks in customer service. One must only see the original Nexus phone to see how well that scenario played out. And the point about Android phones is spot on - my daughter has an Android phone provided by T-Mobile and she's turning 10 this coming week. T-Mobile had no problem issuing the phone in her name; why is Google going to cause me grief if it discovers her account?

So for all of you who've come here to say nothing more than "you suck!" or "learn to read" -- go away. Find something better to do with your life, something constructive, some way to better yourself and learn about the human condition. Here, right now, you're all a waste of oxygen and simply a weight for this father to have to bear.

Feel free to reply and tear me down if you wish; I won't be reading them and you'll be wasting your time -- which might be for the best because some of you don't need to be out and about in society.
 
Why use Google ? Next time, think about possible problems before using services...
 
I think it is absolutely not acceptable, because at-least they can warn you regarding this.. I am a big fan of Google but breaking a little heart is not correct... wake up Google !
 
+Rich Warren The only workaround I can think of is using reinstating the account with a credit card account (Didn't +Greg Consier post that link here?), make the account 'yours' with a simple credit card transaction, and making a backup of all the data. At least that solves the first half of the problem (getting your data out). This link: https://support.google.com/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1333913
 
+IJsbrand Slob, thanks. I'm definitely looking into that. I've read the support material several times now. I think it may be my best option--but, based on my reading, I'm not sure it will actually work, and I'm a bit afraid that it will just make things worse.

Given the attention this post has generated, I'm hoping someone from Google will contact me, answer some of my questions and help me sort out what my options are. However, if I don't hear anything in the next couple of days, I'll go ahead and give this a try.
 
انت رااجل فاضى والله هههههههههههه
Paul S.
 
Same exact problem here. I little warning before accounts get permanently disabled FOR LIFE would be nice, just sayin'
 
and this why living in the cloud sucks. However the number one IDs that are stolen are children, because no one runs a credit report for their children every year.
Chan Li
 
if google dont want kids have google account , google should stop they signing up in the first place !!! +Google+ what's the matter with google , +Vic Gundotra ,why so stupid ?
btw , you use something free , dont take it too serious ,no matter who offer the service
 
إنت فاضي أكت منو لأضفت هدا التعليق هههههههههههههههههههه
 
+Rohit Jain, not really. As I read this, it's says that, since my daughter is under 18 I can verify her age. However, I would still need to lie and claim that she's over 13. There doesn't appear to be any way to either take over the account and change ownership, or to simply provide parental consent and let her keep using it.
 
+lennon li You can't make an account unless you lie about your age/birthday and say you're legal. Try making an account for someone born around the 2000s and it will not let you make the account. So the age restriction has already been covered by a "warning system". Other breaches of the TOS should be made clearer though.
 
Rich, I absolutely understand you and hope you get your issue resolved! I actually did the same the other day for my newborn as a way to collect thoughts and memories for her to read one day - much in the same way you intended. Why can't Google allow registration for under 13s whereby a parent or guardian takes primary responsibility/control over the account? Or something like that.

Story over at ZDNet: http://zd.net/vwgJUe
 
I like how google is is providing a "free" service. Considering that ads are a major revenue for google, http://investor.google.com/financial/tables.html gmail "use" (or they are so discrete that I can't find them?) to have targeted ads. Google most likely wont go out of business they are the new Microsoft.
 
Same happened to my daughter. In her case it was the loss of email addresses that was devastating. She has friends who have since moved away. We don't have their phone numbers or email addresses saved elsewhere. They have no idea she lost the account and she has no way of telling them why she stopped responding.
 
There's always going to be things like things such as this cropping up, it's the world we live in. I hope for Google's sake they resolve this. It's just more awareness for companies like this to move forward with services, and issues. Yeah it sucks if they don't help you out with this, but you can either roll with it, and start anew somewhere else (somewhere more acclimating) , or take it to the chops.
 
Isnt this what they wanted? They have have commercial on raising a child and giving it a gmail account, allowing for the parents to one day give it over to them and share all that they captured for them? Come on Google, get with it! Ever your commercials lean towards this kind of action!
 
+Mike Davidson Well, the point of the commercial might be to give it to the child once they are 13+, perhaps?
 
No matter what their actual policy is, they should at least make some effort to communicate with users before disabling their accounts. I understand they are so big that they don't actually need to engage in customer service, but it just seems contrary to their "friendly" brand identity. Microsoft has made the same mistake in the past and Apple has proven that customers' loyalty often lies with a company that makes an effort to value them.
 
Rich, I'm wondering if you've discovered a "fix" yet. Can't you just "transfer ownership" of her account to your name? I think all that would require is a credit card, if you're comfortable with that. Then, I believe her account would be re-activated. If you created the account, even though the e-mail address has her name, can't you still technically "own" that account? Everything would be back in your hands, and then you could decide what to do with that account. At least you will have access to all of those e-mails once again.

Your daughter was using her e-mail for all the right reasons, and you sound like a wonderful father who gave her the responsibility to manage her own account. BUT, there are plenty of children who are creating their own Facebook accounts and Google accounts WITHOUT their parents' knowledge.

If a child was communicating with someone he or she shouldn't be, wouldn't you want that account to be shut down right away? An extreme analogy would be if there's a big fire in a house or apartment, you wouldn't/couldn't wait for someone's approval before breaking down that door and putting the fire out. Better to put the fire out first.

Let me know how it goes and what you think.

Best.
 
+Renny Fong, I had some trouble getting it to work, but basically that's what I've done. Yes. I now have access to the account, and all the email (and contacts) are safely downloaded.

I agree that children should have go get parental permission to use accounts. I might even agree to shutting it down if there is a question--However, if that happens then the company in question should provide a clear path to providing parental consent and reopening the account as quickly and painlessly as possible.

However, I also think this should be up to the parent, and that parents should have some responsibility for monitoring what their children do online. For example, when she was younger, I had her using the Mail app with parental controls turned on. Anytime she received an email message from a new person, the email went to me first. I had to approve it before it was sent on to her.

Now that she's older, I'm OK with simply having access to the password. I periodically went through and looked at the email headers; though, I tried to avoid reading them unless it looks like something questionable is going on. We've had to talk about a few things--but they've been mostly harmless (like forwarding email chain letters).

I also don't think that online activity can be compared to a fire. A fire is an immediate danger to the child's life. The internet--while unpleasant at times--is mostly benign. Simply having an email account does not put you in any direct danger.

Now maybe if Google had detected a known sexual predator sending her email--that might justify an immediate shutoff. But I don't think they're doing that type of monitoring. More importantly, if they are doing that type of monitoring--there are better responses than simply locking down the child's account. No, in our case the severity of the response was to save Google from possible legal problems--not to protect my daughter.

Besides, giving a child access to Google search is 1,000 times more dangerous than giving them an email account. Are there any age restrictions on Google search? I don't see a TOS on the search page. It looks like they're OK with anyone use it without any restrictions.
 
Well said, Rich. There should definitely be more protocols for setting up accounts. They make it so easy to create "falsified" accounts. Where does the responsibility lie after those accounts are created? With the child? With the parent? Or, with the company that made the account possible? Thanks for your post!
 
OK I'm going to explain something very simple here. Google have a TOS. Once you break that TOS Google no longer hold that nice fancy attitude that they once did. Why should they? You directly broke the TOS that is stated very clearly that you can't do.

I'm sorry but if you break the law are police nice to you? No! It's the same concept if you break the TOS then Google hold no right to be nice to you either.
 
+Nathan Wilkes, last time I checked, Google aren't the police (yet).

Look, they're a business. And part of doing business is telling people bad news in ways that won't upset them--providing options and alternatives, and basically showing that you care. After all, even if you can't do what someone wants, you still want them to come back. It's just basic customer service.

The idea that just because someone broke their TOS, Google can do whatever they want--that's just childish.

Besides, even the cops are nice whenever they can be. I was pulled over the other day. My break light had melted through the red covering and was shining a bright white light out the back. The officer kindly explained the problem to me. We looked at the damage together. He realized that I hadn't intentionally modified my car, and he let me off with a warning and instructions to fix it as soon as possible. Google could have, and should have, done something similar.
 
+John Whiteside, I've dealt with a lot of these comments several times before. You can look back through the comments to see the details. Here's the key points.

1) I never deliberately provided fraudulent information. I don't remember seeing anything about age limits when I made the account. I don't remember being asked for an age. More importantly, if I had been asked, then I would have deliberately set up the account as MY account, and my daughter would merely be using it with my permission and under my supervision. And, if that had been the case, it's not clear that we even violated the TOS.

2) I strongly believe that we are customers, and that it's in Google's best interest to treat us as customers, precisely because we give them something of value (access to our information and a platform for selling advertising) in exchange for their service. Their service is not free. They're not providing it as a public service.

3) Anyone has the right to complain when they feel a company or organization is acting improperly. I strongly feel that Google's actions in this case were inappropriate and extreme.

I don't understand why people are getting upset about this. I'm criticizing Google, not you. Yet, you're acting like I punched your grandmother or something (not so much John, but definitely some of the other commenters).

4) My main complaint has always been about HOW Google CHOSE to enforce their TOS--not the fact that they chose to enforce it. Google could have chosen to handle this in many other ways.

Look, I understand. If someone's using the account for malicious reasons, then you may want to shut it down immediately. But the age limit is a technical violation at best. Surely Google could moderate their response to fit the situation.

And yes. They may legally have to enforce it--but the way they chose to communicate with us (or lack of communication), the way they chose to lock up the data and prevent us from accessing it...those things I can and do fault them for.

This whole "You broke the TOS, therefore Google can do whatever it wants" argument is just childish. Yes, it's Google's service. They can do whatever they want. But why on earth would they want to behave this way? How does Google benefit by pissing people off? And, by the response I've gotten, they've pissed a ton of people off. What does it say about the company that they would respond like this?

The way Google chose to react makes me feel like I'm nothing but a resource to be exploited and disposed of. That pisses me off--precisely because I love Google's products, and I expect better from them.
 
It's a shame, but it is the legal recourse if you choose to ignore the warnings.
 
"Yes, it's incoming email and not outgoing email. But I doubt that would matter, legally. " Of course it matters. If they shut down any account with incoming mail regarding children under 13, I'm sure most Gmail accounts in the world would have to be shut down.

And you are not a customer. You do not pay for anything. The services Google provides you are free TO YOU. Not free fullstop, but you are not the one paying for it.

I agree that Google has taken a hard line here and it would have been a better course of action to make a warning first and I agree you have a right to feel annoyed. But I don't think you have a right to act like Google has wronged you.

Have you actually contacted Google (before writing this rant) about retrieving the account? I take to the internet to whinge about companies and organisations after I have tried dealing directly with them to get the issue sorted out.

To be honest I wish Facebook did as good a job monitoring its website for under-age accounts as Google apparently does. It is scary what pre-teen kids put on Facebook and they probably have next to no understanding of how to properly use its security settings.
 
+Leah de Jager,

1) As I understand it, COPPA law specifically restricts websites from recording information about children. The ad in question specifically showed a father creating an account for the explicit purpose of recording data about his child. That's why I say I'm not sure it matters.

Look. I'm not a lawyer. Your argument--while logical--is not a legal argument. Unfortunately, laws don't always make logical sense.

2) I do feel like I pay for the service by providing Google with access to valuable information about myself. But, let's not argue about that. Let's assume your definition is correct. Why does it matter whether or not I paid for the service?

I've talked a lot about customer service because it's an important topic for me. However, a lot of people seem to be getting hung up on the word "Customer." Don't. It's a useless distraction from the main point.

Businesses don't provide good customer service because people pay them. Businesses provide good customer service because they want people to come back. Because they want them to tell their friends. They want them to become advocates for the business.

Now, Google should want us to come back. They should want to keep us happy. They should want us to be recommending their services and saying good things about them on the internet. That's why Google should improve their customer service. It has nothing to do with whether or not we are technically their "customer".

3) I originally set out to contact Google, but I was unable to. The notification page that we were sent to had a single link to a FAQ (which, honestly, raised more questions than it answered), and a link to verify the account owner's age.

That's it. There was no contact link. No ability to ask followup questions or get more information. And, in fact, this is one of the main reasons I was upset.

4) Remember, I didn't blast this across the internet. When I posted this note, it would only be seen by those people who had specifically chosen to follow me. That was a very small audience.

However, it struck a nerve with a lot of people, and they began to share it, and share it, and share it. Honestly, it spread much further and much faster than I would ever have guessed possible. Apparently, a lot of people have had similar situations. Even more feel that Google acted unfairly.

But originally I only sent it out to a small group--many of whom I knew personally. Of course I was, in part, hoping that someone from Google might spot it and might answer some of my questions. Maybe Google would have scripts set up to scan G+ for complaints, letting them proactively deal with problems. Writing this post was also a chance to vent my frustrations with the whole experience. I never expected it to go beyond that.

Ironically, no one from Google has ever tried to contact me about this. Even though, I'm pretty sure someone in the company has seen it by now.
 
Here's a question for everyone who says "You violated the TOS, you deserve what you get."

If I create an account. I'm the owner, but I let my daughter use it to send and receive email. Does that violate the TOS? I own the account. I'm over 13. But, she does use it.

OK, let's take that a step further. Let's say it's an account I use regularly to send and receive email. I only let her use it to send and receive the occasional message. Does that make a difference? She's still using the service?

What if I don't let her send messages, but I let her read an incoming email? Again, by the strictest interpretation she's still using the account. Can Google shut down my account just because I let my daughter read a few words on the screen?

Where do we draw the line?
 
A lot has already been said, but a lesson here perhaps is the power of big institutions - and I don't refer to Google but the FTC. THE FTC has gotten more assertive in its enforcement of COPPA infringements, real or perceived, against websites who have or MAY have child information.

The FTC's own website states the issue "If you operate a commercial Web site or an online service directed to children under 13 that collects personal information from children or if you operate a general audience Web site and have actual knowledge that you are collecting personal information from children, you must comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act." It is the second part that's getting web sites in trouble - '.. and have actual knowledge that you are collecting information from children. The FTC lawyers have interpreted that if the site permits a child to enter personal info (their name, age, address, etc) then THEY are liable for that. It is not enough anymore to protect them from registering with the site, the FTC realizes children have access (they get in somehow, so the government has to protect them, is the thinking) so the sites themselves must take action to insure kids don't get in trouble. Its easy to see the motivation in this, but the broad based approach means a huge and clearly growing liability for any website that provides access to children, OR ALLOWS THE CONTINUED ACCESS TO, their website.

There also appears to be a number of attorneys who see this area of law as fertile ground for class action lawsuits - simply proving that a large website could have or even should have known children were using there site would expose them to liability. If you ran a website would you want this liability. A defense must be built and developing auto termination processes to proactively remove children 'sneaking' onto your site is one possibly viable defense.

SONY just paid a 1 million dollar fine and that settlement has been a wake up call to a lot of websites. They have to take more proactive efforts to insure no child is entering personal data on their sites either to signup or in the use of the site should they somehow get on (note their was no trial, no finding, just the gov't lawyers winning their way).

The lesson I take away is this is another example of people wanting government to solve their problems by passing laws to protect people from themselves. The problem is while it may (or may not) do the intend protection it comes with a variety of consequences to peoples right to act and be responsible for themselves.

Thank the Federal Government and the FTC for forcing Google to preemptively shut down your daughters account - that's the true culprit, if there is one, here. IMHO.
 
I can't believe that there are this many comments about this. Like most people, you didn't read the TOS lets be honest, until they shut you down. I wouldn't feel bad if it were you but it is your fault and responsibility, since she is a minor for not reading and understanding what she could not. These companies set guidelines to protect themselves from the kind of problem you are presenting right now. They don't have time to parent your children. You know what's on the internet... It's all fun and games until something goes wrong. There is emotion, common sense and the rules that apply. You made a mistake, own it or their all going to laugh at you.
 
The TOS is in place for a reason. You broke it in the first place by signing your under age daughter up on the account. Please own your mistake. This is not Google's fault. I do hope though you can somehow get all your data out safely without loosing it forever.
 
From althepal55 (on YouTube)

Good for you, fighting dad! You must love your daughter very much to take on an out of touch Giant!
(I'm taking on a huge GIANT myself, and you have buoyed me up... thanks!!)

With my warmest wishes to you and your dear ones this holiday season,

Alan Ernesto Phillips
Shasta County, CA
 
Thanks for sharing this +Rich Warren - I hope you get your data back. I hope this doesn't seem spammy, but it seems highly relevant: We're trying to create a family-friendly social network at Wegoz.com. Currently it revolves around activities you go to (hence the name) but it's growing into much more than that. I hope you, and anyone reading this who agrees that there is such a need will come check it out. A key concept is that of a Family Profile (e.g,. anything I post shows as The Knepfler Family) and while children are added as members, they do not have login rights and everything is controlled by the parents. Nothing identifable about your family is visible to anyone whom you have not explicitly authorized as a friend. I sincerely hope we succeed at providing a better experience and managing problems like Google faces better as we grow.
 
They are google. You are a mere private citizen. They do not have to explain themselves to the likes of you.

You are lucky enough to have your story go into mainstream press, probably because you're American. A lot of European s have also been hit by this as well. I've been hit by this and have had to resort to some desperate measures to get the accounts baclk
 
Just writing to say the same situation happened to me & I discussed it here on G+ as well. This all came about because Google Apps and Gmail accounts were converted to "real" Google Accounts, and they started enforcing their age policy when those kids respond to their invitations to join G+ or other services. Those forms ask for their age, which the kids innocently enter.

In my case my son was very close to 13 already, so I used their verification process entering my credit card and fudging his age by a few months. I hate doing that, but he also had plenty of emails and files we didn't want to lose.

Google could do much better, especially with Google Apps accounts, allowing administrators to restrict services from underage kids that may be problematic. Their implementation is sorely lacking for sure. Even worse is their "free" version of things has zero support, so you are left to stumble around and hope to happen on a solution, of which there really isn't one.
 
Just my two cents, but if +Rich Warren set this account up, is it not his and not his daughter's?
 
My daughter just called me crying too. This is ridiculous.
 
I think the key point (which I haven't seen anyone address here) is that Google can do this if they want to, at any time, to any of us--not just children. Whether or not there was justification or legal necessity or whatever is almost irrelevant. Every one of us agreed to the same TOS, and those TOS say that our accounts and everything contained in them may vanish at any moment and we have no recourse. They also say some other things that anyone using the services would be wise to be aware of; it's definitely worth the more than a minute it takes to understand them. But if you have important past correspondence, etc. in your gmail account, suck it into Outlook and store it on your computer or find some other means of back-up. This could happen to you...it could happen to all of us on the same day. And whether you think it's "right" or not, it's within Google's rights and you won't have any recourse if it does.
 
When you made the account you entered a legally binding contract, you broke the contract so service ended. Maybe you should blame yourself for neglecting to consider the small print instead of blaming Google for obeying the law?
 
Not really sure how Google is to blame here... normally when you sign a contract, then violate the terms, they don't need to contact you and be all friendly about it and give you warnings. They terminate your account and move on. I think you think Google is this evil company trying to keep your kid from communicating with her grandparents, when in reality, Google is trying to protect your daughter and other minors. They don't care who or what she's emailing, they care that she is not of age to use their services. (which you lied about when you set up the account, and then were caught)

and seriously, just what the world needs... more kids under 13 on Facebook and google+.... you are asking for problems.

I think you should explain to your daughter whose fault this really is (YOURS) and stop trying to scapegoat Google. Next this guys kid is going to google "is santa real?" and he'll have a whole new set of reasons why "Google made my daughter cry".
 
+James Willett +Kyle Ekstrom

I've addressed the "legally binding contract" issue a number of times. Read through the comments. Also check out my other post on TOS and EULAs.

But, let's be clear. Google isn't protecting my child. At best, Google is protecting themselves. More to the point, it's not Google's job to protect my children. That's my job.

Also, there is a difference between what you have the legal right to do and what you should do morally. I'm shocked that so many people don't understand this. For example, I'd have been a lot less upset if they cut off the account, but gave me a clear path for downloading my information. How is it in Google's benefit to piss me off?

Also remember, they closed the account because they thought she MIGHT be under age. A lot of people (who were not under age) have also had their accounts locked up--and have been seriously inconvenienced by this policy.

Should we just quietly accept something because it happens to be in a companies TOS, or should we complain about things that we thing we feel are wrong, and try to make the world a better place. For example, Go Daddy was perfectly within their legal rights to support SOPA, but that didn't stop people from complaining about it and threatening to boycott them.

Finally, I'm going to repeat these questions because no one has answered them. If you want me to take your criticism seriously, provide a reasonable answer to these first. The issue over whether or not I followed the TOS (and the issue about whether or not the TOS is even legally enforceable) is not as clear as you pretend.


Here's a question for everyone who says "You violated the TOS, you deserve what you get."

If I create an account. I'm the owner, but I let my daughter use it to send and receive email. Does that violate the TOS? I own the account. I'm over 13. But, she does use it.

OK, let's take that a step further. Let's say it's an account I use regularly to send and receive email. I only let her use it to send and receive the occasional message. Does that make a difference? She's still using the service?

What if I don't let her send messages, but I let her read an incoming email? Again, by the strictest interpretation she's still using the account. Can Google shut down my account just because I let my daughter read a few words on the screen?

Where do we draw the line?
 
Just read about your story in the Washington Post. Awesome story!
 
This is a mindset issue. And until you consider a different mindset it will seem like what Google did is wrong.

We have this mindset that we are entitled to the free products that are given to us. It is this mindset that makes a lot of people go off the deep end (not you specifically, this happens all of the time) when something we are use to using gets pulled from underneath us. You were in Googles House. You agreed to enter their house only if you signed off and say you agreed to play by the house rules. When and where they choose to enforce the rules is up to them. They could choose to not enforce them for 10 years.

"Should we just quietly accept something because it happens to be in a companies TOS". This statement baffles me. What I hear is "Just because we are in someone's house and we agreed to their rules does not mean we have to follow them". Are you serious? It comes back to mindset again. "should we complain about things that we thing we feel are wrong". What is wrong? They did nothing wrong. Don't mistake your dislike for what they did as wrong. Mindset. In my mind of black and white they did not do anything wrong. So there is nothing to correct. Was it nice? No. But it was not wrong. If you can't grasp this (and I'm not trying to be condescending) they going any further in the discussion is a waste of time.
 
We are customers. Yes, yes we are. The currency we use to pay for these "free" services is personal and demographic information as well as whatever attention we may pay to the marketing which generates the revenue that keeps the lights on at Google. To say that we do not pay for services is disingenuous in the extreme; if there was no direct benefit to Google for providing these services I assure you they would not exist. That so many here consider information about themselves to be valueless (apparently) is a sad commentary about the social engineering we have become so accustomed to in the internet age.

If you trade something of value for something of value you are not receiving something for free. I accepted that quid pro quo contract with Google, and I agreed to pay them in the currency they require for the services I want from them. Spin it all you want, you're paying for a service and you damned sure are a customer.

Tell me that you will collect no data from me nor will you target ads at me and that you will still provide me a service I value; then and only then will what you offer me be free.
 
+Patrick Allmond, I hear and understand your argument--but I profoundly and deeply disagree with you.

Look back through the comments. I (and others) have already argued both that Google is not really a free service--and even if it is a free service, that shouldn't matter.

Let's take your analogy. If I walk into your house and demand a beer, then throw a fit when you don't give me one, clearly I'm acting badly. However, just because I'm in your house doesn't give you the right to punch me in the face.

If I was upset because Google didn't offer email for kids, you'd be correct. That's not the case. I'm upset because they cut off the account without warning and locked up the information, preventing me from accessing it. That's what got me upset (and, if you check the comments and my other posts, you'll see that this part of the problem has been resolved in our case--though the underlying problems still exist).

I'd argue what Google did was, at a minimum, rude. And just because "I was in their house" doesn't excuse it.
 
I'm not sure that I see the problem with "how" they chose to handle it. They disabled access until the account holder can prove that they're in compliance with the terms of service. They didn't delete the information, they only locked the door, and provided a simple way to unlock it - provide proof of age. Right? Please correct me if I'm wrong - the letter is light on details. :)

For full disclosure, I work in IT at a large company, supporting over 100K users. I have substantial experience working with users of varying levels of technical competency. And I can assure you all that the only reliable way to get the attention of someone with an account problem like this is to lock the account. Sure, some users would see a friendly message saying "hey, you're breaking the rules, please stop" and act upon it without the lock. Most will ignore it, though - especially when it's a free email service or something else which has a low barrier for entry. So, when designing a system to support millions of users, you don't set up a procedure which only works for a small population - you pick the solution which universally works in every case. I can see how an individual may feel personally insulted - but we have to recognize that Google isn't managing individual users. That simply does not work at this large of a scale. As with any large-scale management system, you have to shoot for the common denominator, then provide a means of handling exceptions. That seems to be what they did, though the exception-handling process could use some polishing.

But nothing changes the fact that, as soon as they became aware of her age (through whatever means), they're legally obligated to block access immediately. COPPA says that we web site needs to get parental consent before collecting information from a child under 13, and that a non-compliant web site must immediately stop collecting information from children until the site can be made compliant. The fine is $11,000 per infraction. We keep talking about how the "cost" of the service is the information collected, and that can't legally be collected from kids under 13. If they don't lock the account, then they're still potentially collecting information. Immediately locking the account as soon as they became aware of her age is the only legal option available to them until they invest resources into the legal and logistical nightmare of collecting and maintaining parental consent for the non-educational gmail platform - and "extra" consent needs collected if the information will be disclosed to third parties (which is Google's whole business model).

It sounds like COPPA's requirements are the root of the problem here. I assume we'll be seeing a link to the letter which was sent to the representatives who voted in favor of COPPA soon, too? I run a small ISP (much smaller than Google) on the side, and I have some real problems with those regulations. They sound all "let's protect the children!", when in actuality, they make things a pain in the butt for people like me, and don't do much to actually protect children; they really just let some politician tell his gullible constituents that he's saving their kids from the online bogeyman, all while increasing costs for service providers - costs that get passed on to the customer through higher prices and annoying lockout policies. :/
 
you need to get a grip... you were not doing your duty of parenting but like always.. want to blame the company for stepping in when you faltered. You want your daughter to write letters to grandma and grandpa, then let her use YOUR account to do so.. she is not legally allowed to have one of her own.. parents like you who allow your children to break the law are usually the same ones crying on tv when later in life that lawbreaking trait doesnt work IN their favor! smh.. shame on you rich warren.. shame on you..
 
I am amazed at how many people are making personal judgments against your parenting over what is basically a customer service complaint. I would be angry, too - We don't pay for Google services directly to Google in "filthy lucre," but we DO pay by providing plenty of personal information and by purchasing products through companies advertising on Google (some of that money you pay for this, that, and the other is part of the company's advertising budget, which ends up in Google's pockets) ...

For WEEKS there was a notice across the top of my screen announcing "BUZZ is going away" ... I kept wondering "WHEN????" If Google could give this warning, then why not a warning to you about your daughter's account? I have an almost 16 year old daughter who has participated in NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) ... she has friends in New York, Georgia, Wisconsin and Minnesota who get online to do "word wars," critique each other's work through Google Docs, etc. She has had a Gmail account for several years where she has been able to chat online with these friends. I monitor everything very carefully, since I have her password. I have also made it my business to become friends with these individuals as well in the interest of protecting my daughter.

We were really disappointed to learn that the minimum age for Google+ in the United States is 18, whereas it's 13 in the UK (if I remember correctly) ... I don't understand why such a high minimum age for Google+ ... I mean, every 13 year old in the world has a Facebook. Google+ is such a great tool for people of mutual interests to connect (like her writing friends or my photography friends) ... it's a shame that they've decided to basically cut out a huge part of the US population.

And for those who've commented so harshly against you - they obviously don't have children, families, or hearts ... somewhat Grinch-like, if you ask me. Hearts two sizes too small. :p
 
This exact thing happened to my daughter today. And, yes, it made her cry too. Neither she nor I nor her mother remembers anything about a minimum age requirement when we set up the Gmail account. She used it to trade emails with friends and family members. Unfortunately, we moved recently, and the email was the only way she has of contacting some of her old friends (including one girl whose very religious and strict parents do not allow her to receive phone calls). I've been a big Google supporter over the years, but this is very disappointing. Doing some quick internet research (i.e., Googling) it appears that most people's experience is that Google doesn't care or won't be bothered when people lose access to their Gmail.

Unfortunately, this probably never would have happened if my daughter hadn't attempted to set up a G+ account.
 
+Greg Bair, I was able to use my credit card to get access to my daughter's account. Technically, it's now my account.

There are still a lot of open questions. I don't know if I can let her use the email account, or if that will just trigger another shutdown (or worse). I'm not sure I want to even risk it. But, at least, I was able to download all her mail and contacts. So the important information is now safe, at least.
 
+Rich Warren Thanks. I've read though most (not all!) of this thread since I posted my comment, and I think that's what we'll end up doing. When it was first suggested, I was doubtful about how honest that would be, but it does seem that Google explicitly condones it (I guess they consider the account transferred to the parent at that point--even though they don't really make that clear). Thanks for bringing this issue to the attention, and for enduring all the snide, judgmental things that were said about you and your daughter. Like you, I'm someone who generally loves Google and its products, but I'm miffed and definitely have a more jaded view of the company now.

One last point: a rejoinder to all of you who find it ironic that Rich posted this on Google+: 1) you don't really understand what the word "ironic" means; and 2) Yes, Rich should be allowed to use a Google product to complain about something Google did. What do you think this is? Apple?
 
Wow Rich, I'm truly dumbfounded ... especially given I set one for my daughter as well when she was 2 (she's 4 now) just so I could lock in her name and use the address for an Amazon wishlist for her! Obviously I'm in control of the account at present, but will at least now make sure I'm safeguarding her future emails with a backup to a decentralized service; or lying that the account is mine. Hmmm, I've got awhile to think which road I'll take on that one!
And kudos to you for voicing your displeasure in such a graceful and logical manner. I truly hope Google will realize the errors in their blanket policies and amend them accordingly!
Blessings to your family.
 
+Arvind Pai, I created the account several years ago, so the details are fuzzy. I don't remember them asking for an age when I created the account. If they did, then I would have created the account as my account, and my daughter was just using it.

Similarly, the way I resolved the problem was to basically take ownership of the account. I used my name and birthday to validate it.

However, I'm not sure whether I can let her continue to use the account. To me, the TOS isn't clear. 
 
+Rich Warren I was just about to suggest you do a name and birthday correction (for $0.30), but it looks like you found that already. The same thing happened to me. Google should do something like Club Penguin does where parents need to approve.
 
+Rich Warren when someone creates a google account, they have to enter their birthday. so if they have the birthday, they have the age. that's where google got your daughter's age. although typically, underage accounts simply can't be created so i am surprised your daughter had an account in the first place.

so, if you lied about her age while creating the account, then it's a breach of TOS and whenever the company finds out, the account will be locked.
 
But 99% of the time, all sites have a "must be 13 years or old" when agreeing/approving/etc... to use the site. Even Facebook and Twitter has this. If you are not legal, then they have the right to delete the account or disable it. This is because of child safety. There are plenty of pedophiles out there that are disguised as children on the internet. Some are getting smarter because of the way technology is these days. So Google is only looking out for the liability that if they didn't protect the children and say one interacts with an adult pretending to be a child and something awful happened, then it's on Googles hands. This is how most internet cases of child pornography and such start because a child was underage and unaware they were talking to an adult online. It just takes one time and I bet it has in the past with Google, so they are trying to further prevent such things.
 
It is likely google does not allow this because of their new policies. Now with all of the google accounts info linking for everyone, it would be difficult to not collect on them the way they collect on everyone.
Simply put, since they are collection info on you their system could break down info on your children breaking the law. They want and can legally collect all the info on you, but allowing you to have a child account is nto possible because their data collection system could deduce down the "No Collect" (and obviously child) accounts, and determine which child is yours, thus breaking the law.
It is an unfortunate side effect of a necessary policy change.
 
My son's just asked me why he can't log in and I've had to explain that he's been locked out even though there was nothing about age restriction when we signed him up for his account. He's supervised online, and he uses his mail for... emailling his grandmother, emailling a friend of his who moved to another school a couple of years ago, emailling me when I'm at work to say thankyou for things, and getting updates about his beloved AFL team.

This is stupid. Seriously, this generation of kids is growing up with the internet and where online communication is a standard form of getting in touch with friends and loved ones and receiving information. It's not like he's on Facebook harassing kids at his school or uploading videos of himself acting like a tool on YouTube or setting up a Flickr account of pictures of him torturing animals (how come the authorities seem to turn a blind eye to THIS STUFF?!) and he still doesn't know what 4chan is.

A warning would have been nice at the very least: he's got contacts for relatives in there he doesn't email that much but sometimes sends thankyous to and stuff. Would have been nice to hang onto the addresses and some of his emails. :/
 
Really I wanna put female as my account but don't know how :(
 
google is just mean sometimes you know, and they always do things right but you just gotta live with a email to your daughter that Google is just a b** aunt wants a b** but you know you get the point
 
I am outraged.  We live overseas and my 10 year old uses it to keep in touch with family - much like many other people here.  I have full access to the account to monitor it.  I have MS family safety running on all the machines she uses.  I (not google) am the parent and I thought I was doing a good enough job.

She uses Google drive and Google docs to do her homework because I'm too tight to buy MS office.  Now she loses it all.  I thought I was being nice sorting out her G+ account so she can chat with the family about our vacation photos.  I innocently used her actual birthday and WHAM.  Account disabled - to be deleted in 30 days unless SHE provides a credit card of gov't approved ID (which government? I live in the UAE).  

I have not told her yet.  She is going to flip when I do.

I avoid facebook for a number of reasons and now want to leave google myself (i have used the big G for years).  Looks like I will be dusting down the flikr and myspace accounts!
 
So is the best solution is going to yahoo?
Is there a option for the underaged on google?
 
+Lawrence Arndt, I haven't checked Yahoo's TOS, but it's probably the same. The 13+ age limit is pretty standard.

The best solution is probably to create an account for yourself, and just let your child use it. Then, once they're old enough, hand it over to them. However, you have to remember whose account it is (and enter the appropriate birthday) whenever enabling new features.
 
This just happened to my partner's 11 year old daughter and she also cried. Lost homework, photos and contacts, without warning. Thanks Google! You've lost the next generation of customers. She now says "don't use Google" when we go on a search engine.
 
Too bad the federal government doesn't follow the don't be evil motto. Those jerks. 
 
Are you still able to view the full emails. You can try to print them out for her. Also try the copy and past option that lets you copy anything that is on your screen at the moment by holding Ctrl then pushing print. Then open a photo edit program or Use paint. Once the program is open if using photo shop or gimp . Use the the option that says past as new image then you should see the full email on the screen you may have to cut out the unwanted stuff in the photo but this should make it so you can save the emails as photos. Also first try to print them out in color if there was any color in them. If no color was in them then b and w should be find. Then be sure to scan them back into the PC to back them up on a cd or somthing so she will always have them best of luck.
 
Also be sure to save them in the right formate and high resolution so she sees the email vary clear as a photo after scanning the printed email. Again good luck hope this works for you.
 
Put your complaints on Facebook & Twitter immediately! The more people know about this the more WORD will get around then actions will be taken! I am sorry that Google seems to have ROBOTS at the head of the corporation.
 
WTF?!?
Seriously man, WTF?
Google makes advertising of his changes of terms and conditions, EVER!
If you are to lazy to read 'em all, don't point your finger to him, simply, get smarter and use the RIGHT services that Google provides to us in many ways.
The edu services for examples: they are for all, even for children under age.
Use facebook as everyone else if you don't like what Google does and leave...
I prefer a clean G-world, even if this means that we have to be less than now.
 
Well I see where Google is coming from, and I know if I still had a young child at home, it would be just like when I did. He was a kid, he didn't need a cellphone, I find kids with cells to be obnoxious, he didn't need email, because at his age he didn't have anything important to talk about that would require more than the house phone or a pen and paper. He absolutely never had a comp in his room, I agree with all the experts that a child should NEVER use the internet without supervision, and if you think your kid doesn't visit inappropriate sites when you're not looking then I guarantee they are. If you're one of those "My kid wouldn't do that" parents, your kid is doing it. I have always noticed that these parents with their head in the sand have the WORST kids. Anyway, we are customers, advertisers pay google to get their message to us, without us, no advertisers would pay them because there would be no one to get a message to. So we create the way that Google makes their money. We don't pay them out of pocket, but people pay for Google ads, I have paid for Google ads. So yeah we pay and we get them paid so they owe us some respect.
 
+Rich Warren I'm curious to know how everything worked out in the end.  I understand that you took ownership of the account back, by way of your credit card, but does your daughter still use the account as before, or has she been forced to use paper and pen like some of your commentators seem to be suggesting?

My story is this: Years ago I set-up a couple of "sleeper" Gmail accounts for my boys, under their real names, not long after they were born.  Unfortunately I just made the mistake for one of them (now a five year old), while setting up a user on the Chromebook.  I clicked the G+ link, and without thinking, put in the five year old's real age.  Double doh!

I'll probably take the account back using the credit card, more for the user name than anything as there is not much of value in it at the moment, but then I suppose that would doom my son to being born in the last century as I suppose Google won't let you correct your date of birth even when you come of age...

I'm simply amazed that Google don't offer restricted accounts for kids, that don't specifically have to be linked up with schools and Google Apps.
 
+Ian Cummings

Yes, I still let her use it. I have access to it, of course, and I monitor her online activity, but she has a few friends that she communicates with, and she follows some news on G+.

Technically, it's my account, and she's just using it with my permission/supervision. 

And, yes. I think something similar happened, where I forgot and used her birthday once, instead of my own.

As an aside, I must say that a lot of the "parenting advance" from commenters really pissed me off. These are my children. They are my responsibility, and someone that I don't know--who has never met me or my kids--has no right to tell me how I should be raising them. 

I understand why Google has the policy that they do--but it does seem odd, especially when kids can get accounts at school. I really only had two complaints:

1) Google didn't give me any real customer support, or even provide a clear path on how to fix the problem.

2) The law is intended to promote communication between parents and online services. To make sure we know about and agree with our child's online activities. However, it's having the opposite affect. Most online services are simply deciding that they won't let children sign up, and thus sidestepping the problem. So, instead of having more choice and control, we (as parents) have less.
 
I should be able to "opt" out of their ads then if I am not a customer... And in the case of a chromebook or any other android device you are a customer. You BOUGHT the device.... The really aren't divorce able... It is akin to "well sir, you did buy the car, but we reserve the right to remove the engine (or gas) that make it run". This is why I stick to Linux. Google TECHNICALLY owns android-Linux, but I think someday that will be at best a technicality... As the fight from the Linux side has already begun... Concerning googles "branding" of an item that is open source.

 
I agree that Google shouldn't do that to your daughter's account, but seriously, your acting a little dramatic about this one thing. You could set her up another account or email Google that her account was under parent supervision.
 
#Rich Warren I want to talk about what happened to #Rich Warren and his daughter in 2011. Was this ever settled to his satisfaction, as I see tv commercials showing children using a Nexus 7 in a classroom setting and that is one of the reasons I asked for one for Christmas last year! To enrich MY seriously. disabled and MY child's lives! I know updates to android are happening kinda the radar right now. Some are alarming and I would like to know what is happening BEFORE you change administrative settings that make my entire android device no longer safe if it's lost or stolen! I should NOT have to read about it AFTER THE FACT on Android techie sites! So, is my username at risk? Are my music, daughter's life in pictures, eBooks, purchased crochet patterns, magazines, important medical information and research into my freaky horriffic ME/CFS with a side order of Fibromyalgia, served Neat ( cant have either watered down, oh, no way. Give it to me straight!) everything I have collected since I first owned a computer and now have on a friggin "cloud" about to become inaccessible? I have chosen to trust android (i.e. Google) over iOS (I.e. Apple). To be OUR system in OUR household. Please, don't take our identity from us.
 
+Maschelle Mashburn,

As far as the gmail account went, I finally tried using my credit card to reclaim the account, and that worked. It's now technically my account, linked to my birthday, and my daughter is just using it with my permission and supervision. I'll "officially" give it to her when she's older.

In many ways, I would actually applaud the way Google handled the whole incident, if they had only clearly communicated the situation and a clear path to resolving it for me.

As it was, the little communication that I did have from Google was unclear, not helpful, and made it sound like we were at risk of loosing all our old data.

As far as changes to Android go, I don't know anything about that. It's a fine platform, but I'm an iOS developer, so I stick to iOS devices.
Con rad
 
People are still necroposting on this? DAYUM!
 
I am the sons corporate officer of Google and I had the same issues and I beat up my dad for that
 
Google needs to stop being so power hungry that they ignore their customers before something happens to the company... screw you Google think smarter.
 
Wow.. I was setting up my daughter's tablet and all of a sudden I can't create a simple Google account for her. What the heck? Do I have to lie about her age?
 
Do you even know that accounts etc are NOT like drivers licenses, national ID cards etc, and using particular online services is NOT like drinking, smoking etc? Legal driving age is in fact a very huge debate too. But technically driver license is in place only for public roads and only for particular classes of vehicles (cars, motorcycles). Racetracks, electric and pedal bicycles, electric skateboards, go-karting, RC models etc is exempt from driving license reglamentation (because it's a moreover sport and entertainment activity than transportation). Would it be fair to give a huge ticket to a child (<13) when he rides a bike because he's underage and doesn't have a license? What would be your points for enforcing a driver license on cycling? Also, when you drink and smoke, you cause a harm to yourself and to others who see yourself drinking and smoking. When someone stands near a smoker and breaths with nicotine and resins is actually called passive smoking (one who holds a cig in mouth is an active smoker). Drinking usually causes harm just to one who drinks (even if it's 100ml on a party), but after drinking people usually go insane.
But as to accounts, you just use services, no matter whether the info is actually truth or lie. When you search, post, chat, write, upload, download, like, share etc - you use a service. The only harm that Internet causes to children and immature/mentally fragile people, is such thing as trolling and cyberbullying. Unless you don't mind or search for it - you don't see it. Pedophiles are very rare issue and in fact, it's technically very hard to detect an actual pedophile online. You don't usually see who is behind a screen (unless you use a web camera). Also, nobody is going to ask a street address just immediately after adding - it's a very liability.
Then, cyberbullying and trolling are pretty nothing compared to real life assaults, street fights, or other real life violence. When you saw a cyberbullying action online, the only harm that it causes to you is moral frustration, disappointment or upsetting. When someone bullies you in real life, YOUR WHOLE SELF is about to be hurt, which may lead to various injuries and even death!
You also will say that kids should just play outside and talk face-to-face. I just said the truth about real life. Outside it's even more dangerous than online. As children, we were being taught that you should not talk to strangers outside. If a child talks face-to-face with a stranger, he will really use his extreme friendliness against him and will provoke him to slaughter, rape or abuse disguised as "let's play cars/dolls together?". Probably for this reason, kids don't even play with each other on playgrounds, just independently. Even kids who don't use internet for various reasons are already exposed to inappropriate or harmful content by their only presence in a world. They see advertisements on TV or even billboards. They see pictures in magazines or even books. Even on playgrounds or in parks, bullying or incidents can still be there (from stone/sand throwing and toy theft to injuries due to bad playground equipment technical condition). Playground vandalism is another issue. Usually kids may learn to swear exactly because of playground vandalism, or older peers swearing there.
So, Internet is just like a TV. Google is a kind of programming on it. Nobody even purges kids from watching R-rated TV-shows - it still airs, and kid just sees it partially. The realisation of vision jamming glasses that will purge them from kids eyes, or a TV that automatically turns off when child comes or passes by when R-rated TV show airs is technically very complicated, therefore very expensive, and may be very impossible. For online child safety, as well for child safety outside or other offline places, it's a PARENT'S or older sibling's responsibility, not a corporate or governmental responsibility. Who knows most about a child, is actually parent, not a corporation or government which just holds birth certificates or other personal data.
 
+Amanda Reece
That's the very actual consequences of COPPA introduction and act. Just like German hackers hacked the iPhone's biometrical protection system (fingerprint scanner) by using fake finger models, it's very easy to hack the many website's registration systems by just lying about age. Anyways, technical digital restriction management systems based upon someone's biological or physiological information (age and fingerprint pattern is that anyways) are even less efficient than regional DVD coding, tivoisation etc.
I am 18 and I still lie about my age. Usually, website which block kids under 13 block only due to birth date field. What will be even more worse is when kids are writing somewhere (i.e. bio, comments etc) that they're under 13, their accounts being shut down immediately. It's very hard to technically realize such system, neither will it provide online child safety. If this will happen, then COPPA is Children's Online Presence Prevention Act, not Children's Online Privacy Protection Act!
 
The real way to protect children online is having the parents teach them proper net etiquette. I did with my sister, and she knows what to look for. The core issue is, some parents are just too darn lazy to teach their children.
 
Indeed. Etiquette and culture was always a prominent feature in human life. Since childhood we learn such words, like "thank you", "please", "hello", "good bye" etc. That's the polite talking manner. Due to politeness, we usually avoid unintended consequences while talking to strangers in real life. Same we did for telephones and it is very possible to do for Internet.
 
Your kid got google'd!
 
Without us (CUSTOMERS) Google would not exist! This is why I get so angry, "I'm old school, but not that old" and yes I demand excellent service just like I had to give to my customers! Boycott :-) , WATCH OUT GOOGLE!!
 
Had you taken letters from my mother that passed away I don't know what I would have done they may not be important to you or anyone else but there is not enough money in the world to ever get them back so think about it Google do the right thing and give that little girl back her good memories! These are her grandparents for heaven's sake!
 
Hey Guys,
I wanted to let you know on chromebooks there are supervised users. As long as your parent has a google account, they can set up a supervised user.
 
If you'd read the ToS, this wouldn't happen, I'm sure...
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