According to a lawsuit filed by New Mexico’s attorney general, Google has been allegedly tracking kids in classrooms via its tech solutions, CBS News reports.
Over the past few years, Google has been able to “infiltrate more than half of the nation’s primary and secondary schools by offering a ‘free’ web-based service.” Kids are able to access applications, such as email, through that service, which allegedly enables the tech giant to monitor them. For example, Google Education is used by more than 80 million educators and students; more than 25 million teachers and student use Chromebooks, too.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Google “misled” schools and parents that there were no issues around privacy with its educational solutions, and alleges that parental consent was not gained to data-mine their children. “The company’s data-mining of kids violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires companies to get a parent’s consent before collecting the name, contact information and other personal details from a child under 13, according to the suit.”
But Google is saying that New Mexico’s attorney general has it all wrong – Google Suite for Education gives schools the power to control kids’ account access, and requires schools to gain parental consent when necessary, a spokesperson for the company said. It’s all up to the schools how to properly use this tool. “We do not use personal information from users in primary and secondary schools to target ads.”
Even though Google claims this, it’s difficult to fully believe. CBS News points to a settlement Google was involved with in the fall of 2019, when it agreed to pay $170 million to settle federal and state allegations that “it had violated children’s privacy on YouTube by collecting personal information on kids without their parents’ consent.” This complaint, which was filed by the FTC and New York attorney general, claimed that the tech giant was using trackers to monitor kids, and use the collected data to advertise accordingly to kids.