New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is suing Google for allegedly “spying” on children who use the company's educational apps.
“While Google publicly positions Google Education as a benign tool that is an answer to resource-deprived schools nationwide, it secretly uses Google Education as a means to monitor children while they browse the internet, including in their private homes, on their private computers and phones, and on their private networks,” Balderas alleges in a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico.
His lawsuit focuses on Google's web-based G Suite for Education apps -- including Gmail -- and its Chromebooks for students.
Balderas claims that Google violated representations that its educational products and services only collect education-related data. Instead, according to Balderas, the company's Chromebooks are configured to upload a host of data, including web-browsing activity, searches and passwords.
“While purporting to offer only educational services, Google instead has stripped children and parents of autonomy and control of their most sensitive personal information, forcing children to acquiesce to constant monitoring, in perpetuity, in exchange for their education,” the complaint alleges.
Balderas claims Google is violating several laws, including the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act -- which prohibits companies from collecting personal data from children younger than 13 without their parents' permission.
A Google spokesperson says the lawsuit's allegations are “factually wrong.”
The spokesperson says its G Suite for Education requires schools to obtain parental consent when necessary, and that the company doesn't use personal information from primary or secondary school students to target ads.