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New Mexico Sues Google For Allegedly Spying On Children In Classrooms


Topline: The state of New Mexico sued Google on Thursday for allegedly collecting personal data from children through Google-powered laptops and software in classrooms, adding to the complaints and legal actions already taken against the company for violating privacy rights of students.

  • The lawsuit accuses Google of “spying” on students by mining data through a program providing Google Chromebook laptops and Google Education accounts, which include GMail, Calendar and Google Drive, to school districts for free.
  • The company collected data about students’ physical locations, browsing history, search history, videos watched on YouTube, personal contact lists, voice recordings, saved passwords and other behavioral information, the lawsuit alleges.
  • The state says Google collects such data for commercial purposes, violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law prohibiting companies from using data on children under 13 without parent permission.
  • New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas told schools there is no immediate harm in continuing use of Google products and that the lawsuit should not interrupt daily instruction.
  • Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Key background: Google has already faced allegations it collects children’s data without parent permission. The company paid $170 million in September to settle a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission accusing YouTube of using viewership data to serve children targeted ads. And in 2016, a group of college students sued Google for scanning school email accounts without permission.

Crucial quote: “Student safety should be the number one priority of any company providing services to our children, particularly in schools,” said Balderas said in a statement. “Tracking student data without parental consent is not only illegal, it is dangerous; and my office will hold any company accountable who compromises the safety of New Mexican children.”

News peg: Google has slowly become a dominant force in classrooms across the country, with a growing group of teachers and school districts using Google products. The company says 25 million students and teachers currently use Chromebooks.

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