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What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service?

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What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? jonbordeaux 7/24/09 1:23 PM
I am an educator who will be teaching in a 1-1 laptop classroom starting this year.  I had hoped for the students to be able to use Google Documents, Google Reader, and Gmail, which would mean they would have to have a Google Account, but in the Terms of Service for Gmail, it states that

"2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google (emphasis added), or (b) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services."

My question is: what constitutes "legal age" to form a binding contract with Google?  The heart of it is, can my 8th grade students (age 13 and 14) use Google services?  I think the experience would be very valuable, but at the same time, I can't sanction leading 100 teenagers down the road to commit fraud.

Thank you very much for your time.



Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? SN 7/24/09 1:26 PM
At least 13 yrs of age to use Gmail.
Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? 46897796887 7/24/09 6:31 PM
if you and the parents agree, they can use it.
Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? brownj00 8/17/10 4:11 PM
@IE7 and "if you are the parents agree"... 

Do you have any documentation or reference to support your opinion- or are you just making it up? 

As indicated, the TOS in 2.3 is not clear on age- since that age could vary based on jurisdiction.  In fact the TOS says you cannot USE the service- legally that makes no allowances for "my parents said it was okay".  So I have to challenge your answer as bogus.

The Help article SN posted IS clear- and it was updated 10/14/2009.

So barring unsupported guesses, the answer still looks like 13 to me.
Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? bunny1287 8/21/10 6:40 PM
It says when i typed 13 for my age it didn't work!!
Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? 46897796887 8/30/10 9:38 AM
I have no reference, but if it does not state an exact age, than provided you have permission from the parent or legal guardian then you can set one up.  By the way, when I set up my account, it didn't ask me for an age at all.
Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? 46897796887 8/30/10 9:41 AM
By the way, 13 is not an unreasonable age, and as near as I can see, it does not in any place say an exact age.  I would answer that question differently if it was for a bunch on 10 year olds.  
Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? brownj00 8/30/10 7:08 PM
@IE7 - I am not saying I disagree with your opinions.  I am not arguing opinions or what is reasonable at all.

These are legal matters.  Our "opinions" do not matter.   The only thing that matters is Google's written policy and the law.  If you know where Google's policy says parental consent matters at all, please share.  What they asked when anyone signed up previously does not matter either.  What the policy is today is the question.

The age of thirteen has special legal significance, under U.S. Federal Law.  I am not making this stuff up.

From Wiki for COPPA:

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is a United States federal law, located at 15 U.S.C. § 65016506 (Pub.L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2581-728, enacted October 21, 1998).

The act, effective April 21, 2000, applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age. It details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing to those under 13. While children under 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents' permission, many websites altogether disallow underage children from using their services due to the amount of paperwork involved  [emphasis added].

It seems clear from Google's written Terms of Service and online Help that Google is one of the websites that disallows underage children from using their service.

The part about "with their parents' permission" assumes the website policy complies with COPPA and allows such access.  Believe me, I know the website has to follow special processes- the aforementioned paperwork.  There is no sign or evidence Google complies with COPPA for providing service to underage minors (13).

Now you could argue Google is not enforcing it.  That does not legally mean anyone can ignore the restriction.  It is your responsibility to follow the TOS, not their responsibility to make sure you don't cheat.  If you claim to be over 13 (and are not) you are lying or misrepresenting yourself  in a services contract- and I believe fraud is against the law in every jurisdiction.  Would you get away with it?  Probably.  Is it right or a good idea?  No.

I hope nobody replies to say this is unfair or the law is stupid.  Life is unfair, the laws are often stupid.  Deal.


Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? 46897796887 8/31/10 3:09 PM
@brownj00

I can see now that you are better at interpreting the terms of use than I am.  Please forgive me.


Something I just thought of is that you would, in order to set up gmail accounts for that many people, it would have to be from several different locations as google (I have heard) will not allow you to set up more than a certain number of accounts from one IP Address.  I have not done much research on this, but I think that in order to set up that many accounts you would have to "Set up accounts for a school or business", pay whatever cost it requires, and maybe choose a domain name.

One more thing, @brownj00, now that you have presented that information in the way you did, I can say that I agree with you on the age and I am ready to end this conversation.
Re: What constitutes legal age in the Gmail Terms of Service? jonbordeaux 8/31/10 3:41 PM
@IE7

Yeah, brownj00 is unfortunately correct.  He or she is correct about a lot of things, but unfortunately, life is unfair and the laws are sometimes stupid.  Nevertheless, Google provides a workaround beyond their TOS with Google Apps, offered for free to educational institutions.  Unfortunately for me, my school district currently does not support this FREE offer for my classroom (although they do have it for another part of our school district), even though I have asked for it for over a year (pretty soon after I posted this question).  

The reason I need it is, as you just pointed out, Google will only let you set up a few accounts from an IP address or DNS server (in my limited understanding).  I have my kids set up an account at home (they are 13 and have parental permission), but ultimately, if too many of them (I don't have an exact number yet, but it seems to be around 10-15) try to log into their Google accounts at the same time from school, it starts to shut people out.  

Someday...*sigh*

Thanks to all who replied.  It's been helpful!