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Google set to delete Gmail accounts: possible legal consequences

Teodora Novković • nov 30, 2023

Google set to delete Gmail accounts: possible legal consequences

Google has announced it plans to delete Gmail accounts it considers inactive or non-compliant with the tech giant’s guidelines. This policy warrants a closer look at the legal frameworks underpinning the decision.

According to the company’s terms and conditions, which every user must accept, Google reserves the right to suspend or delete an account after an extended period of inactivity or if the user violates Google policies. Such legal provisions are an industry standard and allows service providers to manage their platforms effectively.

From a legal perspective, Google’s Terms of Service is a binding agreement that users must comply with. That being said, these cases raise broader issues of digital consumer rights and service providers’ personal data processing responsibilities.

Legal consequences of account deletion. The deletion of a Google account can have several legal consequences, including some that have an impact on personal data.

  • Google’s Terms of Service are an agreement entered into between the user and Google, which means each user has to comply with their requirements set out in the terms or risk having their account terminated.
  • Loss of access to a Gmail account can adversely affect the business of an individual or company, including due to interrupted correspondence, destruction of data, and loss of productivity. These considerations highlight the seriousness of the situation, especially in corporate contexts where Gmail is often essential for day-to-day communication and operations.

For these reasons, users ought to thoroughly familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions they accept when registering online accounts.

Consequences on personal data. In the context of a Google account, all information shared by users over Gmail, including in e-mails and attachments, is deemed to be processed by Google, with a major impact on user privacy. Losing access to these data if an account is deleted may have serious consequences:

  • Firstly, this could lead to loss of control over personal data shared over Gmail. There is also the question of how Google safeguards these data after an account is deleted.
  • Losing access to an account can prompt users to consider how Google treats any saved information, how it safeguards users’ personal data, and how it is able to guarantee compliance with any relevant personal data protection laws.
  • These issues are particularly important in the context of data privacy legislation, which require service providers to ensure appropriate measures to protect their users’ information.

Since Google will delete these accounts on 1 December, we recommend that both personal and corporate users review the status of their accounts, ensure they comply with Google’s terms, and protect their digital resources and personal data accordingly.