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So you'd forbid your 12 year old from using Google to do searches?

The law isn't about using the internet, it's about creating accounts and profiles. The Khan Academy has had some trouble with this. Kids can watch the videos and do the exercises, but if they want to record their progress, they start walking a very fine line.

You don't have to be 13 to search Google as an anonymous visitor.. you'll notice that their TOS is at http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS under "accounts", if you don't make an account it's irrelevant - hence anyone can visit the Google homepage and search for something without being told that, by doing that, they are agreeing to anything.

At the very least its not clear. Let me give my evidence as to why the TOS applies to search:

1) While, as you note, the TOS URL contains "accounts", it is accessible in two clicks from Google.com. Simply click the "About" link and the TOS is on the About Google page. It's on a page that has nothing to do with accounts per se, but is the high-level page about the Google company and services.

2) Here's is the first paragraph in the TOS: Your use of Google’s products, software, services and web sites (referred to collectively as the “Services” in this document and excluding any services provided to you by Google under a separate written agreement) is subject to the terms of a legal agreement between you and Google. “Google” means Google Inc., whose principal place of business is at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States. This document explains how the agreement is made up, and sets out some of the terms of that agreement.

They don't call out anything about accounts at all here. They seem to be referring to all services.

3) They actually have a section which is about accounts. If the whole document was about accounts they wouldn't have a specific section about it. Here is the opening paragraph of that section:

In order to access certain Services, you may be required to provide information about yourself (such as identification or contact details) as part of the registration process for the Service, or as part of your continued use of the Services. You agree that any registration information you give to Google will always be accurate, correct and up to date.

Notice the use of the term "certain Services". That is, certain services require an account, but not all. This document as a whole is referring to all services.

If you think this TOS only applies to accounts, I think you'll need stronger information than simply the URL where the document is located. I certainly don't think the URL is part of the legal agreement. And if you read the TOS by itself, it seems pretty clear that it includes Google search.

Yes or no, at least this person wouldn't be surprised when the account was shut down.

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