So, how Google dependent are you?

I just read this story here. In summary: a number of people buy the new Pixel smartphone directly from Google, then immediately resell the device. The TOS clearly forbids doing that (but apparently, nobody read them), so Google terminates the accounts of all offending parties and bans them from future service.

You have to let it sink in for a moment to fully grasp of what happened there: when going with Android, you are coerced into signing up for a Google account (you don’t have to, but skipping this step can be difficult). The account is free, but there’s a legally binding contract attached to it. The contract is of a rather lengthy nature and reading it on a phone screen is not a particularly pleasant experience , so the SignUp App conveniently hides it behind an “I accept” checkbox. Afterwards, your entire digital life gets (slowly) sucked into the Google cloud.

With Google, you are not paying for any service and therefore you are not entitled to it. If you use Android naively, you could one day wake up and find that:

  • You can no longer be contacted by email
  • You loose access to your apps
  • Your photos are gone (along with everything else you stored in the cloud)
  • You are even locked out of non Google websites, simply because you chose to use single sign-on (and with your Gmail account being terminated, you cannot even change that).

All of that not because of some stupid hacker attack (which you dutifully prepared for by using two factor auth), but because you violated a contract, you never took the time to fully read/understand, which was not shown to you properly and which gets updated every couple of months.

Was it right for Google to terminate those accounts? Legally, it was. Should we have consumer laws that protect us from companies, coercing us into legally binding agreements and dependencies, the layman has no way of (fully) understanding (till it’s too late)? Certainly! But the important thing here is: all the convenience, Google services bring are nothing compared to the discomfort you’ll experience if you are cut off. You can be cut off at any time, for any (or no) reason at all. So don’t make yourself dependent!

Posted in Rants