Google Violates Students' Data Privacy, New Mexico Attorney General Says -- Does He Have a Point?

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New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas started legal proceedings against Google last week, arguing that the tech giant violates the privacy of students through the free Chromebooks it delivers to the state's schools.

According to Balders, Google tracks students' activities across devices outside the classroom. The lawsuit raises the question of what the company is doing with all data it collects from the children without their parents' consent.

Student safety should come first for any company providing services to our children, Balderas commenting, adding that tracking gathering student data without parental consent is not only illegal, but it could also be dangerous.

Balders highlighted that his administration would hold accountable any company that compromises the safety of New Mexican children. 

That is not the first the New Mexico Attorney General is taking on Google. In 2018, he filed a lawsuit against Google and other tech firms for violating the provisions of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The suit is separate from the new one, and it is still ongoing, court filings showed.

Google declined the allegations, Jose Casteneda, a spokesperson for the company, said, highlighting that G Suite for Education gives schools some options to control account access. 

Castaneda also added that as per the contract with the educational institutions, the schools should obtain parental consent before allowing users under 18 to use Google products and services.

Google's spokesperson noted that the firm does not use personal information from users in primary and secondary schools for marketing purposes.

Google Education has been used by more than 80 million educators and students nationwide, Balders noted, highlighting that the firm has access to all these digital lives and data. On top of that, there are more than 25 million students, and teachers also use Chromebooks that run on Google's operating system, the lawsuit added.

In September 2019, the Mountain View-based firm agreed to pay $170 million to settle federal and state claims it had violated children's privacy on YouTube by gathering information on minor users without their parents' consent. 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the state of New York accused Google of using ''cookies'' or personal identifiers to track children, and making profits by using the information to show them targeted ads.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Balders' claims that Google us collecting data from children for its commercial interests?