Google Accused of Spying on Kids

3 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google Accused Of Collecting Data On Young Students’ Internet Activity.

Washington:- Google collects schoolchildren’s personal data, including internet searches, a civil liberties group says. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in which they allege that Google has been violating the privacy of students as young as seven years old by mining their data.A leading privacy watchdog has charged that Google is collecting and using students’ data through software installed on laptops marketed especially to schools, in violation of the company’s stated commitment to protecting student privacy.

Yesterday, the EFF announced the launch of a campaign called ‘Spying on Students’ to raise awareness about privacy risks for technology used at schools. The EFF’s Tuesday complaint said that Google can track every search term, site, and video students view using a feature that is enabled by default on the Chromebooks that are sold to schools. The campaign came with a complaint that it filed with the FTC against Google, claiming that the company collects and data mines school children’s personal info, including what they search for.

Google’s use of children’s data is just one component in a larger discussion of how to define consumer rights in data collection and what level of responsibility technology companies should bear in protecting their data. Making such promises and failing to live up to them is a violation of FTC rules against unfair and deceptive business practices,” EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo says in a statement. “Minors shouldn’t be tracked or used as guinea pigs, with their data treated as a profit center. If Google wants to use students’ data to ‘improve Google products,’ then it needs to get express consent from parents.” Google told the EFF that it will disable the setting on school Chromebooks that allow Chrome Sync data to be shared in the near future. The complaint alleges that Google rigged the “Chromebook” computers in a way that enables the company to collect information about students’ Internet search requests and online video habits.

These practices fly in the face of the Student Privacy Pledge , a legally enforceable document whereby companies promise to refrain from collecting, using, or sharing students’ personal information except when needed for legitimate educational purposes. The company originally balked at signing the pledge, which was endorsed by President Obama, saying its own privacy policies were already comprehensive. After initially declining to sign the pledge, Google eventually caved in to pressure from advocacy groups in January, amid fears that it would open the door to students’ personal information being used for advertising purposes.

But it relented in January after the pledge – created by a Washington-based privacy think tank and a software industry trade group – gained further support. When reached for comment at the time, a Google spokesperson defended the company, telling VentureBeat: “Our services enable students everywhere to learn and keep their information private and secure. Google provides a suite of tools called Google Apps for Education that provides schools with services similar to those available to businesses, allowing schools to worry less about their own network infrastructures by paying to use the company’s cloud. Initially, about 75 companies signed the pledge, while the number has now grown to more than 200. “By and large, parents have been pretty trusting of schools with respect to the delivery of education and the necessity of collecting data,” says Doug Levin, an education technology consultant who previously served as executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association from 2009 until earlier this year.

But with several high-profile data breaches and leaks over the past few years, such as the NSA spying program disclosed by Edward Snowden or the recent hack of toymaker V-Tech, he says, “I think parents in general are much more aware about the collection of data – and the exposure of data – than they ever were before… Google collected this information using the “Sync” feature in the Chrome browser, the default browser of the popular Chromebooks used by many schools.

What’s changed is parents’ level of trust in the system doing right for their kids.” While many states have passed laws aimed at protecting students’ data, the EFF’s complaint marks the first time the FTC’s enforcement over technology companies has been directly challenged, Mr. It’s clear that Google’s mission to get their computers into schools and enterprise organizations is to clasp down on a new potential stream of Google (and Alphabet) consumers. “Get em while they’re young” is a battle cry for many marketers, but Google has made a statement to set the record straight.

The news comes after toy-maker VTech admitted today that it has suffered a devastating cyber attack, resulting in millions of pictures of children being stolen, along with their names and birthdays. The EFF complaint also maintains that Google was also able to collect student information by tracking students in their Google for Education accounts, and that this information could be shared with third parties using administrative settings. “We commend schools for bringing technology into the classroom.

The EFF has also alleged that the software’s administrative settings, which can control several Chromebooks at once, allows an administrator to choose a setting that sends students’ information to Google and other websites, which violates the Privacy Pledge, the group says. In 2012, Google paid a $22.5 million fine after the FTC concluded the company had created a technological loophole that enabled its digital advertising network to shadow the online activities of people using Apple’s Safari browser without their consent. Despite the outcry from the privacy watchdog, for schools that have invested heavily in the technology, perspectives on students’ privacy rights vary. Rochelle added: “Schools can control whether students or teachers can use additional Google consumer services — like YouTube, Maps, and Blogger — with their GAFE accounts.” Personal data is beyond important, as our entire lives are spread out over multiple services that operate online in one way or another.

Previously, the principal of a technology-focused school in the district said teachers aimed to increase students’ awareness of how their data was being used online, though she did not address the Google software specifically. “Talking with students even about their digital footprint, what they’re leaving out there on things they’re very familiar with has been eye-opening for our kids,” Lisa Gilbert-Smith, principal of Dearborn STEM Academy, a public school in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood that has made computer science courses a focus, said in an interview last month. “Just making sure they can utilize technology in an appropriate manner, and that they actually know what it is, and why it is, and where it came from, those are things that [our teachers] are working on.” At schools in the suburban district of Burlington, Mass., which also use the Google software, officials say students are not entitled to privacy rights for devices provided by the school. The district’s superintendent told Passcode’s Malena Carollo that it monitors what students do with the technology in order to ensure their safety. “It’s not their device,” Burlington superintendent Eric Conti said. “Are we monitoring or filtering your use? Rochelle wrote that the data from Sync is “only used to power features in Chrome for that person.” Additionally, Google’s systems compile data from millions of users of this feature and only non-personally identifiable information is used by the system to “holistically improve the services that we provide.” GAFE accounts can also be used to access consumer services provided by Google such as YouTube, Maps, Blogger, and Search. The group’s complaint also comes amid a debate over whether to include privacy protections in an upcoming rewrite of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act standards, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. “I think it does lead — whether it’s companies or schools — down a path of [asking] ‘How much are we collecting?

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