Google Disabled My 15 Years Old Account Without a Single Reason [Part 2]
Have you read part 1?
I Need to Speak to a Human, Please!
The 2nd week after Google disabled my account. I passed from the shock-and-disbelieved state into the focus-on-recovery state.
I decided to get someone from Google to listen to me! It’s getting crazy dealing with their bots and online appeal forms! So I went to Google Office in Amsterdam. Here is part of the conversation I had with the Google office building receptionist:
Me: Hello, is Google Office here?
The receptionist: Yes.
Me: I would like to talk to anyone from the Google team.
The receptionist: Do you have an appointment?
Me: Not really.
The receptionist: Do you work here?
Me: ha! No.
The receptionist: The only way to go inside is if you have an appointment or work here!
Me: But I have had a huge problem with my Google account since last week, and I’m trying to call Google via phone, email, and submitting appeals forms, and no one is answering me. Can I talk to a human maybe someone can fix my problem? Or direct me to someone to speak with?
The receptionist: You can’t enter the building if you have no appointment (He was surprised that I insisted)
Me: Am I offending you by my request? You look very offended!
The receptionist: No but rules are rules! And nothing I can do!
(At this point, I knew already that nothing would happen and I won’t see anyone)
The talk continued; his stubbornness toward the rules made me feel like talking with a robot. And knowing that a company of the size of Google has one of the worst customer support in the world (as the receptionist pointed out) didn’t make it easier!
He kept talking and insisting on following the rules while giving me a paper with a link written on it; he said: This is the only way you can get support.
Surprise!!! It was the same support page I had been using for a week already) I told you, Robots! Following the rules.
I left the building with so much anger! Anger on Google, myself, the receptionist Robots, on everything! I decided to ask the people in or out of the building to find someone who could help! Found none! So, I went back home.
Protected Under the GDPR!
My visit to Google was a big failure time.
While riding the metro, trying to think this through, I remembered that I have a new GDPR officer colleague! Bingo!! If Google took my data without legal or proper communication, it’s time for GDPR and lawyers to talk!
The next day, I met with the GDPR officer, Giorgio, and told him my story! Of course, he was also surprised at how I was treated by Google and told me something that brought some hope back to my mind!
It’s your data, and you have the right to access it; under the GDPR, whatever you have done using Google product, we dont care, the data is yours. They can disable your account, but you have the right to ask to access your data. Google MUST respond to that request and grant you access, even for a copy of your data!
This is FANTASTIC news!! Living in Europe and being under European GDPR laws pays back!
If you don’t know what GDPR is and what power it grants you, it’s time to know that. Learn from my mistake https://gdpr-info.eu
He told me that based on my story, Google broke multiple articles of the GDPR act. I can use Article 20 (The Right to data portability) to get a copy of my data. He said you only need to find their official email and send them a request.
How easily can you find things on Google, right? Try to find their GDPR department email or a form to submit a complaint; it will take some time (Article 13). So to save someone else time, I will share what I found here.
- Their Privacy Inquiry Form (Generic but good start) form
- Their Data Protection Email (GDPR) email@example.com
So, I submitted an online form and wrote an email with all the details. Now, I have to wait from 1 to 3 months for their response (Article 61), so let the wait begin.
Finding the root cause
While waiting, I kept searching the Internet for leads and connecting with people who had the same problem to find what I could do to get my account back to the normal flow.
Thanks to Micheal, who has the same problem, we contacted them over LinkedIn. He shared some blog posts and tweets with other people with similar issues. And I came across this medium article. And here I got me.
Ahaaaa Moment!! I FOUND IT!!
Google considers full ownership of any piece of data in your account. In the case of Adriano above, his account was disabled due to some old content from some WhatsApp groups, which was automatically backed up on Google Drive. Google claims that this is harmful content!
OMG! It clicked! I never thought about that! I never thought that my files from 15 years ago or those family & friends’ WhatsApp groups could be the mistake I would be charged for later, and my 15 years old Google account would go away!
That is unbelievable! It’s incredible how Google treats emails and accounts like they are nothing! They spent years and years locking people into their products and services, taking it from them in one second! Without any warning, just because they backed up the wrong files!! It’s incredible how they introduce features to make your life “Simple” and “Easy,” like automatic backup, and then you have to pay back losing your account by using such a feature.
To this day, I have no idea which content on my account is considered harmful content by Google Bot; no response from Google, and time is passing.
What to do next?
After getting closer to knowing what I have done, digging more, and asking people around, I found that the one thing I can do, the one that Google “allows us” (the users) to do, is: Submit an appeal form repeatedly until someone from the accounts team reads and believes your story that you are not uploading those content intentionally or selling them over the Internet! It’s simply a wrong backup file; you will be very careful!