Friday, July 15, 2011

If you break the rules on Google+, you may lose all Google services

Google requires it's users to be at 13 years of age to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. In the Netherlands last week, a 10 year old boy who already uses Gmail, signed up for Google+. Alex, the young Google user, was kicked off all Google services for breaching the Terms and Services (TOS). Not only was he kicked off but he is required to show proof of age within 29 days to prevent all of his Google accounts from being deleted. Of course he can't.

My gut reaction to this is disgust with Google and it's for a couple of reasons. I'm not a fan any site restricting access to anyone, except in cases of adult content; but even that can sometimes be misconstrued into something it's not such as in the early days of adult content blocking when information on breast cancer was being restricted.

The other aspect that caught me off guard was how did they find out? Normal TOS asks you your age as you are signing up for the service. Even if it doesn't ask that question where did the information come from that said Alex was under 13? The algorithm at Google looks at everything but what human eyes are also looking at everything?

Again these were gut reactions but why is Google, in my opinion, overreacting? Lately the Plex has been under intense scrutiny from the Government. Therefore I can understand them wanting to make sure that the TOS is being followed, especially the part of it that pertains to young children.

Just because I understand though doesn't mean that I agree. The problem is that entities who have no business policing the net are trying to do just that. The reason our government is unqualified to police the net is because they don't understand it and show no signs of ever making an effort to embrace it. In this situation it should be left up to the parents to decide whether or not allow their child on Google+.

I still have a problem with all services and accounts under Alex's profile being deleted. Unfortunately though that has to happen if Google shines the light on him at all. It's a simple all-or-none call in a program like policy process. Google's TOS applies to all Google services therefore it has to carry out all aspects of their terms in all areas that it refers to.

Do you agree or disagree with me? Please, I would love to hear your take on this. Leave your response in the comment fields below.

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