Google's mission to "organize the world's information" apparently includes information about the habits of students as young as 7-years-old. So alleges a complaint filed yesterday with the Federal Trade Commission by the San Francisco based Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF claims that actions taken by Google to track students on a Google-provided software suite used by schools across the country run counter to a legally binding agreement regarding student privacy, and as such violate FTC rules.
As part of its larger "spying on students" campaign, EFF employees discovered that when students use Chrome Books provided by Google they open themselves to a host of privacy violations.
"[Google is able] to track, store on its servers, and data mine for non-advertising purposes, records of every Internet site students visit, every search term they use, the results they click on, videos they look for and watch on YouTube, and their saved passwords," a press release announcing the complaint reads. "Google doesn’t first obtain permission from students or their parents and since some schools require students to use Chromebooks, many parents are unable to prevent Google’s data collection."
Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo expressed his organization's frustration with Google's actions.
“Despite publicly promising not to, Google mines students’ browsing data and other information, and uses it for the company’s own purposes," Cardoza said. "Minors shouldn’t be tracked or used as guinea pigs, with their data treated as a profit center."
Google, on the other hand, thinks the company is already doing enough to respect students' privacy.
“Our services enable students everywhere to learn and keep their information private and secure,” CBS 5 reports a Google statement as reading.
This is not the first time the company has run in to trouble with the FTC with regard to concerns of privacy violations, and CBS 5 notes that Google was fined $22.5 million in 2012 after it was determined the company had been secretly tracking the activities of users of Apple's Safari browser.