PSA: Google et al. may lock you out of your account at will …and they do

Sebastian Greger

What if you woke up tomorrow, and saw that you were blocked from Google.

You’d probably be confused, right? You didn’t think you’d done anything wrong. Why would you be denied access to your Google account?

Suddenly not being able to use your email, have the ability to work on documents, and access your photos and videos, would be a real blow.

Unfortunately, that’s the dilemma and price to pay that comes with entrusting everything you do to a large proprietary software company. They have the power, and you risk losing everything.

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This is an important reminder to never rely on a third-party for critical logins (or e-mail for that matter). Good friends don’t let their friends use Google et al. to log in to important tools.

Currently, large companies like Google are terminating accounts without warning, giving the recipient a reason why, or providing a way to get it back.

I’ve had a few cases among acquaintances where such sudden “Big Tech” account suspensions without comprehensible reasons caused – at best! – massive headaches. There is no reliable system in place to defend oneself against these acts of arbitrariness, and access or data cannot always be restored.

Host your identity credentials, e-mail accounts, and other stuff with reliable providers, based on contractually defined accountability in regards to their availability. “The cloud” is just other people’s computers, and they may lock you out whenever they want.

But yes, on the broader scale there is an urgent need for regulation, to protect the masses.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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