Overhype

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
coppa, terms of service, under 13

Companies:
google, khan academy



On the Internet, Google+ Knows You're A TOS-Violating 10-Year-Old Dog

from the unintended-consequences dept

theodp writes
"In its tear-jerker 'Dear Sophie' Google Chrome ad, a father creates a Gmail account (dear.sophie.lee@gmail.com) for his just-born daughter to preserve memories of her childhood. So, how does that work out in real life? Not so good, at least in the case of 10-year-old Alex Sutherland, who the WSJ reports was reduced to tears after being notified that the Gmail account his father created on his behalf two years earlier would be deleted because the Google+ Profile Alex created triggered a Google Terms of Service age violation. 'You made my son cry, Google,' wrote blogger Martin Sutherland. 'I'm not inclined to forgive that.' Not to pile on, but Alex may also be persona non grata at Khan Academy, where learning under the age of 13 can also constitute a TOS violation."
To be fair, the "under 13" age issue is not something that should be blamed on Google, Khan Academy or any other site (and, really, if theodp wanted to be accurate, he could list most of the top sites on the internet, who all have this same restriction). It's (of course!) the result of poorly thought out legislation. Namely, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act -- another one of these "for the children" laws that politicians love to pass without thinking about the unintended consequences. Here, as in many cases, the intentions may be good: to prevent websites from collecting too much info from children who don't quite recognize what they're doing, but the actual results are that most sites simply put in their terms of service that the site is not for people under 13, even if everyone assumes that those under 13 still use those sites.

Of course, even bringing up how silly this is can lead to backlash. When Mark Zuckerberg recently suggested that perhaps the law needed some rethinking to make it more reasonable for those under 13 to use useful parts of the internet, it was dubbed "controversial", and he had to clarify his remarks to make clear that he wasn't trying to get under 13 kids on the site any time soon.

Either way, it does seem silly for Google to put out a commercial in which a father creates an email address for someone under 13... when it's taking away accounts from others who do the same thing...

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    thedigitari, 2 Aug 2011 @ 4:48am

    "for the children" is like "but. but.... Piracy"

    it's and easy target a "push button" Topic, so "easy" to make one look good, but like the TSA and Banning cigarettes, it does nothing in reality.

    which is truly worse, second hand smoke from a cigarette, or second hand car exhaust?

    this is only "feel" good legislation. it makes for a great clip on the MSM news.

    this is what politics IS, not much to do with reality but sure helps pick the prom king/Queen.

    My niece was programming DOS at 5 years old, she would write her one programs, at 10 she was into C++.

    children develop at different ages, it "should" be a parents choice, but too many parents have no Idea what little John/Jane are doing. because of being too busy or they just don't care.

    the real world has "darwin" awards, the internet should also, if you cannot survive a virtual world the real would will surely kill you, as it should be.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.