Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is Google becoming more evil?

K1 was surprised (and upset) to find out that she had been locked out of her Gmail account. Inexplicably, Google appears to have decided that it was time to enforce its terms of service - those under the age of 13 are not allowed to have Gmail accounts. (I found this out by googling Google and Gmail. Besides, who really reads these TOSs and EULAs anyway. I can hardly count the number of times I’ve clicked “I have read and agree to Terms and Conditions” every time Adobe Flash updates.) This decision is strange since it deliberately chose to allow these accounts when she was signing up. I suspect it has something to do with Google+ and the default privacy settings that Google has set up for all users. Sounds sneaky and well, perhaps even evil for Google.

The least they could have done was to give a warning and a grace period of several days or a week to clean out her account and download any documents that she needed. Now in order to reactivate we'd essentially have to send Google a credit card number and be charged $0.30 thereby establishing that since she has a credit card she can enter into a contract with the evil empire. But by doing so, we could be accessory to fraud by letting her pretend to be older than she is. This sounds so badly handled that only some nincompoop in the legal or marketing department could have thought this up.

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