Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Read the TOS #edtech

TOS stands for terms of Service and they have been popping up all over the place and most recently on video games (just saw one to use the EA Sports network on an XBox game).  We often joke that as we scroll through these and click accept that we are giving up their first born.  But these TOS agreements are important.  Perhaps most importantly is a sites right to refuse services for any reason.  Why am I rambling about legal issues when I am not a lawyer nor do I pretend to play one on TV?  Because Google made a young girl cry this week: Google Shuts Down Youth Account.  And while many sites hide behind COPPA to protect themselves from lawsuits, they have every right to do so!

Who really made this young blogger cry?  In my opinion, her father, who should have read the agreement and done his homework before signing her up for a gmail account. Google clearly states that children under 13 should not sign up for an account.  Now, I felt bad for this young lady who had her blog ripped out from under her and email taken away.  But, this was not Google's mistake.  I heard the father this morning on the radio talking about the situation and felt bad for all involved.  I even called the radio station this morning on the drive in to tell them about Kidblog which also does not allow children under 13 to register directly for an account.  Instead a teacher (or presumably a parent) signs up for an account at Kidblog and then creates sub accounts for students to blog under.  Within the TOS, they clearly state:

"1. Membership Policy
You must be at least 13 years or older to register for this Service. Users under the age of 13 must use an account created by a Member over 13 years old. Kidblog is uniquely designed for teachers, students, librarians, administrators, parents, and anyone else involved in education. The Member registering (or maintaining/moderating) a class account (and subsequently creating and/or adding students/users to the account) is responsible for obtaining permission of a parent or guardian of any users under 13 who use the Service within the Member's class account."

A lot of tears could have been saved.  I understand that the young lady and her father were able to recover and offload the data.  Perhaps they can migrate the information to Kidblog so she can continue to grow as a cyber citizen.
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