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COPPA gives an (easy?) way out - the parents just have to fax in their consent for their underage son to use their service. There is no law stopping the kid, Google probably just doesn't want to be inundated with such requests.

Fax? Easy? So now you need to go through some pointless, antiquated charade just to indicate that you consent to let your kids use the service? It would cost far more to have someone looking at the faxes and correlating them with the appropriate accounts than they gain by allowing minors to use their site. Google is not a charity; COPPA has made it far to expensive to bother keeping profiles for minors, so they just ban it, like just about every other significant online service.

The relevant information could easily be OCRed from the faxes (even more if they provide a standard form), only requiring a one click human validation.

It isn't that easy, and even with permission it might not be legal or appropriate for children to use some Google + services.

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