Breaking the Rules on Google+ Gets You Google -

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News Posted: Fri, Jul 15 2011 10:58 PM
Google+ may be a brand-new service, but there has already been at least one case of a user breaking the rules and getting the banhammer.

Google, in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, requires its users to be at least 13 years old. Last week, Alex, a 10-year-old boy from the Netherlands, created an account on the Google+ social network. Google promptly responded with a punishment after he entered his date of birth.

In return for violating the terms of service for the social network, the boy was kicked off of all Google services, and, as his father wrote in a blog post, will have his account across all services deleted within a month unless he can provide some proof of being old enough to use the services.

"Alex was in tears," his father wrote. "He uses email to keep in touch with his grandparents, who live in California and Scotland... Google is basically just going to delete his last two years of email messages (they don't offer any way to log in and export his messages), and plans to cut him off from his family until he turns 13."



"Just because no-one reads the Terms of Service, doesn't mean that they don't apply. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law," he wrote. "But seriously... Alex has been using the web since before he could [censored] read. To him, Google practically is the web."

There are two sets of rules to follow on the Google+ network: the general terms of service, which are included when signing up for any Google service, and the community standards, which are general social networking caveats such as no nudity, no hate speech, no spam/phishing, etc. If a user breaks a rule listed in either of these agreements, they are at risk for being removed from all connected services.

What do you, as a reader and possible consumer of Google products, think of the situation? Google now owns such a large part of the market that, if an event such as this were to a occur, a user may not only lose their social network account, but also several potentially vital services. As the company will only continue to expand in the future, such issues are worth considering.
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QAmarado replied on Sun, Jul 17 2011 8:27 AM

"Google, in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, requires its users to be at least 13 years old."

As said in your post 13 years old. I am sixteen and can't use google + I entered my Birthdate currently.

Damn google Lied.

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At 10 he shouldnt really be using the internet without parental guidance anyways!! why isnt he speaking with his relatives through his fathers Gmail accounts? I dont know, in some respects, its a bit harsh of a punishment but at the end of the day these rules are in place for a reason and to protect children!

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PFeenstra replied on Sun, Jul 17 2011 8:58 AM

I'm liking Google less and less as the years go by, what was once the lovable company brandishing the slogan "Don't be evil" has become just that, truly evil. They've already ruined youtube by completely siding with the recording industry, making DMCA take down notices a breeze and a massive pain to counterclaim. As for Alex, I wouldn't worry about your e-mails being deleted, google will save them until 2053 along with every other piece of e-mail ever sent or received by their servers, along with every search made.

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omegadraco replied on Sun, Jul 17 2011 12:13 PM

Google should have some type of form that they can provide to parents to sign and allow the kid access to his accounts. This form would release them of violating the law as the law states that parents need to give permission it does not directly say that they outright cannot sign up for anything. We run into these issues with web services we use in schools all the time.

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notryan replied on Sun, Jul 17 2011 12:16 PM

Something interesting to note, bdpowell81, is that the COPPA is a U.S.-only law; Alex is from the Netherlands, where the law is not in place, yet he is still subject to it through Google's TOS.

If you read his father's blog post, his father -is- there when he uses the internet, and Alex sounds very talented for his age.

Of course, he could be lying about all of it, but we'll never know.\

@PFeenstra: LOL, yeah, they'll probably be in the annals of their servers for the next century. Slowly building a profile on young Alex, so that when Skynet finally awakens...

wat

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notryan replied on Sun, Jul 17 2011 12:19 PM

This is a great idea. Easy out for Google, and wouldn't be difficult to implement.

wat

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RTietjens replied on Sun, Jul 17 2011 1:18 PM

Google is a US Corporation and must follow US laws; they're under constant scrutiny from Microsoft's friends in Congress, so they can't really afford to break the law.

That said, there ought to be a "supervised account" option available, which would require first the underage user to log in, and then an adult parent or guardian to log in and authorized use of the account.

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Currently, Google+ is only open to users 18 years old and older. See this forum post and the answer from a Google employee: https://groups.google.com/a/googleproductforums.com/d/msg/google-plus-discuss/RTh_laUTRFo/JsMXHDWSkrAJ

Remember, Google+ is currenly in a limited field test, and it is likely the age limit will be reduced to the usual 13 eventually. Google does not want liability if a minor's privacy is exploited by this product that is neither completed nor released.

This does not make Google "evil", they are merely protecting their product and minors' privacy until the final release.  Better this way with a field test of a smaller portion of the population than a final product released to everyone at once, which would have the likelihood to fail like Wave or Buzz. 

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Inspector replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 2:05 AM

This is why u should lie about your info... lol :P

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NAhmad replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 8:25 AM

Google is doing the right thing. There are way to many kids on the net mingling with strange adults and no supervision.

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Schmich replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 11:34 AM

It doesn't have to be constant supervision. Clearly his dad knew what the boy was doing and really would show that he does have some type of supervision. Google is a bit in the wrong. Disable his Google+ account is fine but they should then ask for some proof that he is supervised by the parents and they know what they're doing.

Basically at this point they should reinstate the Google services to him. Now if he should be allowed to Google+ is another story and I'd say I don't know enough to even argue that. But disabling the rest where there clearly is a parent supervising and knowing what's going on is just low.

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notryan replied on Mon, Jul 18 2011 4:24 PM

Yes, I know. I was simply posting food for thought.

wat

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or as the parent, you can restore the account within the allotted time period by paying Google a 30 cent service fee ;).

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