A Google Nightmare That Happened & What If It Happened Again?

@Google my account has now been disabled for over 3 weeks. I still have no idea why, and after using every resource I have to get this resolved you have done nothing but given me the runaround.

— Andrew Spinks (@Demilogic) February 8, 2021

Omg… I would be so friggin mad.

Google is teh evil. But beyond that.

Maybe don’t put all your eggs in an advertiser supported basket for which you pay nothing.

In order to be treated as a customer you need to buy and pay for things.

Unless you run your own datacenter you can’t not trust your internet life to another company. Let me jump right on that. I have nothing better to do.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a bot, an algorithm or AI deleted the account.

The point being there should be a human being to take care of an issue this serious.

I know, repeat again and AGAN…
“it’s a private company, they can do whatever they want.”

It’s time to decide if we want these private companies to have so much control over the internet. I’m typically pretty libertarian when it comes to private business, but it’s absolutely absurd how much power they wield over us.

Yeah, I learned my lesson with GeoCities.

Watched from the sidelines as other folks learned it from .Mac iDisk MobileMe.

I have email accounts and web space that I pay for. It’s not bulletproof guaranteed not to get ripped out from under me too, but it’s substantially less likely than with the free services.

Actually he was a paying customer and was with Google for 10 years.

If you’re locked out of your Google account and the only company service you use is Gmail, you might lose access to your emails, but Chris was much more deeply invested, using Google Fi for phone service, Google Fiber for internet access, Google Pay to settle debts, Google Drive for school and work, and Google Photos for photo backups. This left him with no way to pay phone or internet bills, unable to access his Google Pay balance, and with nearly a decade of photos and documents gone. And even that basic loss of email access is a massive problem right now.
When Google locks you out of your account, begging the internet for help is your first (and last) resort


The issue isn’t that I need to own a data center. It’s that I need to be a customer of a datacenter operator. Not some consumer of their “free” services that they provide as loss leaders while exploiting the shit out of the far more valuable data that I foolishly give them.

If my cloud or email provider screws with me I call their customer service. And to talk to the people I’m paying to have on duty to talk to me.

However, it appears that, in this case, that guy was a customer. Google Fi and Google Fiber are paid. Google Pay functions like a bank, and is paid for in the same sense as those are. And if he backs up video projects regularly, he’s likely on the paid tier of Google Drive.

He thus should have not needed to essentially shame the company online to get customer service. But that is something that happens with Google. I’m more familiar with it with YouTube–where the user does also pay Google in the sense that it takes a portion of their ad revenue.

And it’s ridiculous how often they don’t even bother to communicate the problem.

Yahoo locked me out of my PAID email account for 2 years, with no recourse for me, despite herculean efforts. Then one day a couple years ago, it magically let me back in. No explanation, nothing. Fortunately I’d already migrated most of my stuff over to another email (google!) when I got locked out, but I still had years of history with my late parents there I didn’t want to lose.


Sounds like it’s time for a) some regulation, and b) good portability between providers.


With internet behemoths, paid vs. unpaid isn’t really the issue. Whatever fee an individual might pay is so inconsequential to Google that it might as well be zero in terms of eliciting a response. The only way to get any traction is to get a human above the API to notice you.

Ermm, that’s embarrassing. Note to self: read for comprehension

While I would like that as well, it’s not gonna happen. Google / Facebook / generic Internet behemoth will lobby like hell against these things, to protect their market monopolies, and they’ll crush the little guys (us).

Yes, this. And even then it is a crapshoot.

Personally, I had never really even stopped to think about how much of my data and files were on Google until now. Helps that I’ve never gotten on Google’s bad side yet, but ya never know … will definitely be making a backup soon.

I did a search and for those interested in protecting your online activity, right’s etc. S.2968 - Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act116th Congress (2019-2020):

Introduced in Senate (12/03/2019)

Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act

This bill places requirements on entities that process or transfer a consumer’s data.

Specifically, the bill requires such entities to

  • make their privacy policy publicly available and provide an individual with access to their personal data;
  • delete or correct, upon request, information in an individual’s data;
  • export, upon request, an individual’s data in a human-readable and machine-readable format;
  • establish data security practices to protect the confidentiality and accessibility of consumer data; and
  • designate a privacy officer and a data security officer to implement and conduct privacy and data security programs and risk assessments.

Further, the bill prohibits such entities from

  • engaging in deceptive or harmful data practices;
  • transferring an individual’s data to a third party if the individual objects;
  • processing or transferring an individual’s sensitive data without affirmative express consent;
  • processing or transferring data beyond what is reasonably necessary or for which they have obtained affirmative express consent;
  • processing or transferring data on the basis of specified protected characteristics (e.g., race, religion, or gender);
  • conditioning the provision of a service or product on an individual’s agreement to waive their privacy rights; and
  • retaliating against an employee who provides information about a potential violation of the bill’s provisions, or who testifies or assists in an investigation or judicial proceeding concerning such a violation.

The Federal Trade Commission must establish a new bureau to assist with enforcement of these provisions.

Here is a list of Clients Lobbying on S.2968: Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act.

75 unique organizations have registered to lobby on this bill.

It doesn’t look like any of that would fix the problem the person in the OP has.

I’m honestly kind of at a loss as to what regulation in this area would look like. You could maybe force companies to let former customers retrieve their data, which would mean you wouldn’t lose all your old emails/data/whatever, but it’s going to be really hard to write regulations that could fix the case in the OP. That would require forcing the business relationship to continue which seems very complicated and unlikely to happen.

You can force businesses to have actual human customer service departments with well-publicized call-in numbers and adequate staffing. You can write regulations that people have an ownership interest in their email account and cannot be deprived of access to it except under highly limited circumstances with automatic restoration, a rapid appeals process, etc. Just like your local electrical utility can’t cut you off for the hell of it or refuse you service.

The hard one is that you need email address portability. So if someone has been foolish enough to use a Gmail, Live, Yahoo, or AOL domain name for their email, they can seamlessly take that name to another mail provider. Without requiring a complete rewiring of the existing internet mail standards, this amounts to the losing company will be required to provide cost-free 100% reliable mail forwarding forever.

I’m not a lawyer But… Google Pay has control of his direct deposits, at least the last one. I think a call to his state attorney general would be in order.

I had something similar happen to me a couple of weeks ago at work. Long story short, there was a security update that was designed without accounting for substitutes, which resulted in my Google account being secured against me. And all of the tools I needed, including Zoom and the online textbooks, were directly or indirectly based on Google.

Fortunately, in my case, I only needed to go to the in-house IT department to get it fixed. But if I couldn’t get it fixed, I’d have been sunk.

Sure, but can you make them do something other than say “I’m sorry that your account has been suspended. This decision is not reviewable”?

You could do this, but it would basically mean the end of free email accounts. Or if applied to many other services, free whatever accounts. Anyone who wants to pay for an email account with good customer service can get that right now. They just can’t get it from Google.

It’s not obvious to me that making all email (or pick your class of internet thing) services require payment would be a net improvement to the world. I’m inclined to think it would be terrible, actually, particularly for people of limited means.

If I had to pay, say, $30 a year for my email account, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But how much of the global poor would simply have no access to email if that happened? How much further would they be left behind.