New Mexico AG Urges Appellate Court To Revive Privacy Lawsuit Against Google

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is asking a federal appellate court to revive a claim that Google's educational apps violated the federal children's privacy law.

“Google collects all sorts of information about students’ online habits which it then uses to build profiles on individual students, and it does so without providing notice or obtaining consent from parents,” the attorney general argues in papers filed recently with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Parents should be given control over what kind of access companies have to their children,” he adds.

The dispute dates to last year, when Balderas alleged in a lawsuit that Google's Chromebooks are configured to upload a host of data, including web-browsing activity, searches and passwords.

He accused Google of violating the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act -- which prohibits companies from collecting data from children under 13 without parental permission -- along with several state laws.



Google urged U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal to dismiss the claims, arguing that it complied with guidance provided by the Federal Trade Commission, which is tasked with implementing the children's privacy law. That agency has said schools can consent in lieu of parents, provided the information is used for a school-authorized educational purpose.

Freudenthal agreed with Google and dismissed the allegation that it violated COPPA.

“FTC guidance is persuasive in recognizing a proper notice and consent role for schools given that schools communicate with and obtain consent from parents and guardians they regularly contact for any number of other school-based activities,” she wrote last September.

Balderas now argues to the 10th Circuit that Google's argument to Freudenthal was based on a “wrongheaded understanding of relevant FTC statements.”

The attorney general specifically says companies must obtain consent from parents, not schools, if data collected from students under 13 will be used for commercial purposes.

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