Why Google is asking for your birthday

Android users and other people with Google accounts are reporting that they have received a prompt from Google to provide the company with their date of birth.

“Your date of birth is missing. This info is needed to comply with the law,” the prompt states.

This prompt is sometimes displayed even when a Google Account holder already provided their date of birth when they created their account.

The prompts are being seen by users all over the world, not only in South Africa.

MyBroadband asked Google about how the birth date is being used, and which law it is complying with by asking for the data.

“This prompt is part of an effort to ensure that our users meet the age requirements for their Google Account,” a spokesperson for Google said.

The company declined to say which specific laws it is complying with by asking for this information.

However, Google’s statement regarding minimum age requirements points to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the United States, and EU regulations that limit how the private data of children may be collected and used.

Screenshot of Google "Add your birthday" popup window on Android with the wording "Your date of birth is missing. This info is needed to comply with the law."
Minimum age verification for a Google Account on Android. (Click to enlarge)

Google ran afoul of the Federal Trade Commission in the United States in 2019 over allegations that it had violated COPPA.

To settle the case, Google agreed to pay a fine of $170 million (R2.5 billion) and to limit advertisements on YouTube videos aimed at kids.

To manage your own Google Account, you must meet the minimum age requirement for the country associated with your account.

“If we have learned that you may not be old enough to manage your own account, you’ll have 14 days to either set up supervision for your account or verify that you’re old enough to manage your account. During this grace period you can log in and use your account as normal,” Google explains on one of its support web pages.

“If you choose not to set up supervision or verify you’re old enough to manage your account within 14 days, your account will be disabled and your account information will be deleted after 30 days,” Google states.

Google maintains a list of the minimum age requirements of the countries it operates in on its support website.

For most countries, including South Africa, the minimum age to manage your own Google account is 13.

Google says that for younger children, parents can help create and manage a Google Account with Family Link. When a child reaches their country’s minimum age, they can manage their own account.

Now read: You can now make a restaurant booking in South Africa using Google


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Why Google is asking for your birthday