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Google Illegally Collected School Kids' Personal Data Alleges New Mexico AG, Files Suit

Google Illegally Collected School Kids' Personal Data Alleges New Mexico AG, Files Suit
Based on allegations that the educational software from Alphabet Inc’s Google search engine gathers personal data about young students without the required explicit parental consent, a law suit was filed against the company by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Thursday.
In response to the allegations, Google did not provide any detailed explanation apart from saying that the allegations were “factually wrong”.
The company provides its free or low-cost G Suite for Education software package that also comes with email and writing tools along with its Chromebook laptops to schools around the world.
The Web browsing, location, passwords and other personal information of the students, aged below 13 years, who are given Chromebooks by their schools, were transmitted to Google, found Brian McMath, an assistant attorney general under Balderas, while he and her his team as well  as outside experts had conducted a test for the same recently.
According to the charges slapped against Google in the law suit, the company had did not gather “verifiable parental consent” before collecting the data which was a direct violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
There were concerns that Google could use the children’s personal data to generate revenues, McMath said, even though she added that they had not found any evidence that the data had been misused by Google in any way so far.
“G Suite for Education allows schools to control account access and requires that schools obtain parental consent when necessary,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda told the media about the case.
While evaluating and purchasing educational, consent is generally given by school districts, said the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the application and implementation of child privacy law.
However the FTC was urged to reconsider their position last year by Balderas and about two dozen other state attorneys general as they argued that the stance allowed companies such as Google to utilize the more than necessary latitude related to the companies tracking activities of children under 13 years of age without the knowledge of the parents or without obtaining consent from the parents.
Accusations of illegally collecting data from mobile apps made for children were leveled against Google and a few other tech companies by Balderas in 2018 and case was filed. All accusations were denied by the companies and the case now awaits a decision to be delivered by a federal judge.
A settlement fine of $170 million was asked to be paid by Google’s YouTube video service to the FTC by in September last year over allegations that the company had collected personal information about children violating federal laws.
Globally, there has been close regulatory scrutiny of the activities of social media companies over issues with their policies about privacy and practices of data monitoring – especially with respect to that of children.
For its users who were under the age of 13 years, a new tools and features for parental control in its messaging app will be added by it, said Facebook Inc on February 4.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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