Google relents, unlocks accounts for Pixel resellers

And just like that, the "digital death penalty" has been lifted.

After about a day of scrutiny, Google is reinstating the accounts of people who bought Pixel phones on behalf of a New Hampshire dealer and shared in the profits once the devices were sold again with a markup. At this point it's still unclear exactly how many people's accounts were disabled because of their roles in the reselling scheme, but Daniel Eleff -- owner of the deal-spotting website that first broke the story -- mentioned over 200 people were locked out of their accounts, some for multiple days.

Just to be perfectly clear, Google had every right to disable the accounts in question -- the company's terms of service clearly prohibits the commercial resale of devices purchased from its online store or through Project Fi. To hear Google tell the tale, the company is unlocking the accounts because some customers "weren't aware" of that particular rule.

Google went on to say that "many of the accounts suspended were created for the sole purpose of this scheme" -- in other words, they were secondary accounts that probably didn't have a lot of personal data associated with them. Still, anyone who used their primary Google account to buy phones for that unidentified dealer got a taste of swift, secretive corporate retribution. Remember: Google's original response to these people was that they were simply locked out because of a "violation of [Google's] Terms of Service," leaving people to puzzle over their situation while coming to grips with their reliance on a single company for so much.

Emails sent to these people were bounced back to senders, and still others (as pointed out by ABC News) couldn't access work documents and medical records. That, suffice to say, screwed up a lot of people's days. Google's move to block offenders from the company's services was widely seen as overkill, especially since the scope of Google's response has been hard to pin down. There was at least one reported case in which a Google account was disabled because the account attached to its recovery email was used to buy phones for resale, though others who did the same weren't affected. Neither the would-be resale conspirators nor Google handled this whole situation very well, but hey -- at least it's all over.