Dad to Google: "Thanks for making my daughter cry"

Dad to Google: "Thanks for making my daughter cry"

Summary: A frustrated father took to Google+ to take the search giant for task for locking down his underage daughter's Google account without warning or recourse.

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TOPICS: Google
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One very upset father has taken to Google+ to publicly shame Google for its policy of shutting down the accounts of underage users without warning. And when the post in question opens with "Hey Google, thanks for making my daughter cry," you know that it's not going to have a happy ending.

Here, I'll let the words of Rich Warren, the father in question, start the story:

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.

Warren goes on to say that while he understands that Google has to comply with COPPA, the regulatory standard that limits how much information websites can collect on children, he was never advised that this could be a problem. Moreover, Warren says that with his daughter's account locked, all of her Google-stored information and data could be deleted at any time.

Here's Warren's conclusion on why, exactly, this is so upsetting:

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.

There are two interesting trends in the comments to this open letter to Google: the top comment is another father expressing similar disappointment, saying that his daughter can't even log into her own Chromebook. But several others called Warren out for not reading his terms of service (TOS) when signing her up for a Google account - the search giant warns against this exact scenario.

In a second, follow-up Google+ post, Warren disputes that criticism, saying that what Google is legally allowed to do is distinct from the honorable course of action. He spares some other invective for the concept of reading every in-depth, legalese-filled TOS out there, too.

Warren's story has made a lot of headway on the Internet's mass consciousness: at the time of writing, his original post had +2097, 491 shares, and around 1400 upvotes on Reddit. It appears that there are plenty of Google users out there who sympathize with Warren's plight.

Google has not publicly issued a response thus far, but I hope they say something soon: this is exactly the kind of validation that Google critics need. Despite Google's in-house efforts to help users export their data on demand, that's useless if you can't get into your own account, and at the end of the day, Google's the only one with the combination to that lock.

Topic: Google

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72 comments
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  • When will people realize that Google knows what is best for them?

    Do not their actions clearly spell that out?

    :|
    Tim Cook
    • RE: Dad to Google:

      @Mister Spock

      If your comment title said "When will people realize that Apple knows what is best for them?", you would say AMEN! Stop trolling.
      NetAdmin1178
      • Why would I say Amen to my own comment?

        @NetAdmin1178
        also, I would not say Amen as that would indicate that I believed we are here by the designs of some deity, as opposed to the true, evolutionary path that life took.
        :|
        Tim Cook
  • RE: Dad to Google:

    I guess lodging complaints directly to the home office is as good a use for G+ as any.
    Playdrv4me
  • RE: Dad to Google:

    Guy, don't blame Google for this.... blame COPPA, which is not meant to protect children (I can go up to a child in my neighborhood and get name, address, age, etc. just by asking them for it most times, even if their parents taught them to not 'talk to strangers') but to cause problems for online companies.

    COPA and COPPA need to be REPEALED, post haste.

    It's time for people to start living in the real world where you have to teach children to protect themselves very young.
    Lerianis10
    • But... but... but... THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!

      @Lerianis10

      It sad that we get many near sighted and ineffective laws because rules meant "to protect the children". Sadly, most of these do nothing of value since most child abductions are done by family. Most violence against children is perpetuated by someone the child knows well.

      And it is political suicide to vote against any legislation that might be considered "anti-child" protection. Even if it is the right thing to do.
      Bruizer
      • RE: Dad to Google:

        @Bruizer
        What laws are you talking about? Every child law made has been struck down because it included adults rights as well. Also you don't sound like a parent to me. Their is no law in the world that will prevent a child abduction or worse and our prisons are full of the ones who got caught.
        Stan57
      • Every child law made has been struck down??? Really???

        That is a statement of falsehood if I ever read one.

        Not a parent but I am an uncle and have been a kid. And yes, I think the 21 years old drinking age law is stupid. Kids can vote for the President at 18. We can send our kids off to kei protecting us at 18 but they can't choose to drink? Stupid law beyond belief. Still in effect.
        Bruizer
      • @Stan57

        Child Labor laws. Try to get those struck down and watch the howls ensue. And, no, there's nothing wrong with children working in a safe environment. It's actually good for them.
        baggins_z
    • RE: Dad to Google:

      @Lerianis10

      If its not made to protect childrens privicy then please tell everyone whats its really ment to do.
      Stan57
      • Give a false sense of security...

        @Stan57

        So mom and dad can leave their children unattended while being fully protected in their on-line activities.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Dad to Google:

        @Stan57 Make the voteing public think the goverment is takeing action.
        kirogl
    • RE: Dad to Google:

      @Lerianis10
      It is not COPPA. That is just spin.

      Face book does not have a challenge giving my daughter an account but Google does. It???s not COPPA. Google has turned into an arrogant and uncaring monolith. They showed their colors when creating Google + and locking out suspected offenders without any appeal process. If you were a reporter and purchased ink by the barrel you could get things fixed but if you were an ordinary person you were out of luck. This is just more of the same.
      John238
      • RE: Dad to Google:

        @John238

        Um, I thought Facebook currently requires users to be at least 13.

        Granted, Zucktard wants to allow premies to have accounts, but I don't believe he's gotten permission for that yet.
        aep528
      • RE: Dad to Google:

        @aep428 That explains why so many dogs have facebook accounts, doesn't it? Facebook doesn't even care if the "person" described by the account is even a person, why would they care about age?
        Bucky24
  • RE: Dad to Google:

    Google should reply with: "Hey Dad, thanks for spoiling your daughter, allowing her violate TOS [i]you[/i] agreed upon, break federal mandates and regulations, then trying to make [i]us[/i] the bad guy because you don't know how to tell her 'NO'.

    What's next Rich? Will you publicly chastise the bar that kicks your daughter out because she is too young to drink, even though [i]you're[/i] there, and [i]you[/i] condone and allow it? So long as she's doing it under your supervision?

    Sorry... but just because you [i]think[/i] you're some exception to the rule, the fact is the rule still exists. And, we as a company are going to follow it. Don't like it? Write your Congressman. In the meantime, don't break our rules (again, that you agreed to), then cry about it when we take corrective action."

    What's funny is... if this m0r0n's daughter had went behind his back and created gmail or Facebook accounts without his permission (which she probably has), and Google [i]didn't[/i] do anything about it? ... he'd be shouting to high Heaven how Google is just a money hungry company that is not worried about the safety or privacy of their users, or following Federal regulations.
    UrNotPayingAttention
    • Agree 100%

      @UrNotPayingAttention Well said.
      wackoae
    • RE: Dad to Google:

      @UrNotPayingAttention
      I think Google did the right thing here, but your example is incorrect:

      "Will you publicly chastise the bar that kicks your daughter out because she is too young to drink, even though you're there, and you condone and allow it? So long as she's doing it under your supervision?"

      This is perfectly legal in Texas, and, if a bar die that to me, I would have a serious problem with that establishment.
      BubbaJ
      • RE: Dad to Google:

        @BubbaJ Actually, the LAW only pertains to the legality of a parent or guardian giving their minor child alcohol in a bar. Bars can refuse service to anyone they want. If they don't want to serve the minor alcohol, even though it was legal, they don't have to and there's nothing you can do about it.
        SpiderTech
      • RE: Dad to Google:

        @SpiderTech
        You completely missed the point. Bars, restaurants. toy stores, or any other business has the right to refuse service to anyone, but exercising that right may come with a valid protest from those discriminated against. This is different than a company being legally forced to deny service to someone.
        BubbaJ