New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed suit against Google, accusing the tech giant of harvesting private data from school students through their G Suite for Education profiles. The assistant to Balderas stated that testing by the Attorney General's office revealed that web browsing data, location data, passwords, and other data were transmitted to Google by the Chromebooks. The suit alleges that the data was used for advertising practices up until 2014.
The suit alleges that the practices violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA because no verifiable consent was received from parents before data harvesting began. "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," said Balderas.
Google has since denied Balderas' accusations, stating that "These claims are factually wrong. G Suite for Education allows schools to control account access and requires that schools obtain parental consent when necessary. We do not use personal information from users in primary and secondary schools to target ads. School districts can decide how best to use Google for Education in their classrooms, and we are committed to partnering with them."
The G Suite for Education, the program in question, is offered to students across the United States. The program offers numerous free Google services as well as free Chromebooks to students; according to Balderas' lawsuit, the program is offered to 60% of New Mexico students. According to Google, the program allows schools to control account access and that certain things within G Suite require parental consent.