Two School Children Filed Lawsuit Against Google For Allegedly Collecting Students’ Personal & Sensitive Data

Recently, two school children have accused the tech giant Google, claiming that it’s illegally assembling their voiceprints, faceprints, and other Privately Identifiable Data (PII).

The students were recognized only as HK and JC in the accusation, which was registered on Thursday in San Jose, CA, in the US District Court of Northern California. The kids are claiming through their father, Clinton Farwell.

The accusation notes that the tech giant Google has infiltrated the country’s primary and secondary school systems by disseminating its Chromebook laptops, which appear pre-installed with its G Suite for Education program. That set comprises student accounts of Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and other Google apps.

However, the information collected would probably to violate Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA, which improves facial identification, fingerprinting and other biometric technologies in the state. 

Thus, the method would also be expected to run afoul of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. This national law needs places to get parental permission while accumulating personal information from users who are below 13 years.

Though, the tech giant Google has total control over the data collection, usage, and maintenance practices of the ‘G Suite for Education’ setting, covering the biometric data and other privately identifying information obtained by the aid of the service. 

Thus, it applies this control not only to privately and unlawfully control and profile children but to do so outwardly the knowledge or permission of those children’s parents, that’s what the lawsuit states. But Google refused to comment.

According to the court document, Following Information is collected by Google,

  • Physical locations.
  • Websites they visit.
  • Every search term they used in Google’s search engine.
  • Videos they watch on YouTube.
  • Personal contact lists.
  • Voice recordings.
  • Saved passwords.
  • other behavioral information.

Well, the complaint is claiming for damages of $1,000 for every member of the class for BIPA breaches Google performed “negligently,” or $5,000 each for each invasion committed “intentionally or carelessly.”

Moreover, the lawsuit emphasizes Google’s dominance in American classrooms, which has only expanded in the current weeks. Schools are relying more on the tech goliath’s educational tools as physical classes throughout the nation are dropped in acknowledgment of the coronavirus pandemic.

As various states pass stay-at-home orders, the regulation of Google’s tools has skyrocketed. Thus, downloads of Google Classroom, which encourages teachers to conduct classes online, have expanded to 50 million, addressing it the No. 1 education app on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android programs. So, on Thursday, the tech giant Google declared a partnership with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to distribute 4,000 Chromebooks to students over the state. 

Therefore, the lawsuit isn’t the first time Google has brought analysis for its classroom struggles. In February, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas accused Google of supposedly violating COPPA by its educative platforms. 

Thus, the lawsuit challenged Google of gathering information on students’ locations, their passwords, what websites they’ve attended, what they’ve hunted for on Google and YouTube, their association lists, and voice records, as we listed above. 

However, Google has also confronted broader blowback for its administration of children’s data. In September, the US Federal Trade Commission hit the company with a record of $170 million fine, as well as new specifications, for YouTube’s breach of COPPA. In reply, the video section made significant adjustments to how it treats kids’ videos, including restricting the data it gathers from those aspects.

Its worth mention here that recently the Attorney General of New Mexico, Hector Balderas, has filed a lawsuit against Google and claiming that spying on millions of children and their families without their consent.

So, what do you think about this? Simply share all your views and thoughts in the comment section below.

BALAJI is an Ex-Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.