Google Says It Tracks Personal Student Data, but Not for Advertising

What does Google do with the private statistics it collects from kids who use Google merchandise at Student? That has become a pressing query for privacy advocates as Google has quick grown into one of the kingdom’s biggest vendors of tutorial technology in ok-12 colleges.

Now Google has provided a few answers to that query in a seven-page letter to Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., the ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on privacy, generation and the law.

Google does no longer use okay-12 students’ private records to serve centered classified ads, the business enterprise says in the letter, which changed into signed by way of Sue Molinari, Google’s vice president for public policy and government relations.

however Google does track information from college students for different reasons, which includes growing and improving Google products, the agency wrote. Such tracking happens while students are signed into their Google Apps for training account however are using certain Google services including search, YouTube, Blogger and Maps which might be taken into consideration outside Google’s core academic offerings.

hundreds of ok-12 faculties and universities and more than 30 million college students and teachers use Google’s Apps for education, which the agency offers to colleges freed from fee.

Franken said that Google’s reaction became “thorough,” but said he will are trying to find further rationalization from Google about some of its privateness policies regarding scholar records.

“Google’s reaction to my thinking turned into thorough, and i appreciate its engagement in this subject matter,” Franken said in a announcement. “but i am nonetheless involved about what precisely Google does with the data it collects and tactics from students who’re surfing outside websites-like YouTube-whilst logged in to Google’s education offerings. i’m also nevertheless interested in whether or not Google can offer parents and students with more potent privateness protections-as an example, through permitting college students to ‘opt-in’ to statistics collection. I plan to keep operating with Google to make clear a number of its guidelines, because it’s essential for the privacy of our students.”

The corporation also said that it does not sell student information to 1/3 events and does not proportion college students’ non-public statistics besides in some situations mentioned in its public privateness rules inclusive of whilst faculties ask the agency to percentage the facts, or the law calls for it.

The letter came in response to a request from Franken closing month that Google provide specified statistics approximately its scholar privacy policies, voicing challenge that kid’s personal records became being collected and used without parents’ information or consent.

“I believe americans have a essential proper to privateness, and that proper consists of a scholar or figure’s access to information approximately what records are being accumulated approximately them and how the statistics are being used,” Franken wrote in his Jan. thirteen letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Franken asked Google to explain no longer simplest whether it is concentrated on advertisements to students now, however whether it has ever completed so. The corporation responded that query obliquely, writing that while advertisements in its educational services have “always been off by default,” in 2014 the agency took the “extra step” of casting off directors’ potential to turn on advertisements.

The “extra step” refers to a blog submit that Google posted in April 2014 after dealing with a lawsuit alleging that Google had illegally scanned scholar emails for commercial gain. The weblog put up said that the employer had “permanently removed all ads scanning” in its e mail service for faculties. privacy advocates noticed it as a tacit admission that the enterprise had certainly been scanning student emails as a way to target advertisements.

The lawsuit, which was framed as a category-action case on behalf of truly all customers of Google’s training apps, ended in 2014 after a federal choose declined to certify the elegance. The employer is now facing similar allegations in a case filed ultimate month by 4 students and alumni from the college of California-Berkeley.

Nate Cardozo, a legal professional for the digital Frontier foundation, a San Francisco-primarily based privateness institution, stated that the letter is the first time that Google has made an unqualified assertion that it does no longer goal ads to k-12 students. that could imply that the business enterprise did target advertisements until lately, but its practices have now changed, Cardozo stated.

The electronic Frontier basis alleged in a December 2015 filing with the Federal change fee that Google is amassing records approximately nearly everything that scholars are doing at the same time as signed into their college-based totally Google bills.

Cardozo stated he believes that Google’s tracking of data whilst college students use Maps, seek and other such applications quantities to series of scholar records with out parental understanding or consent, which he said he believes is a violation of the voluntary student privacy Pledge that Google signed.

In its letter to Franken, Google says that directors have the authority to determine which apps students may also use, and might most effective permit access if parents consent.

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