New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has filed a lawsuit against Google LLC alleging the tech giant is illegally collecting personal information from New Mexico school children under 13 in violation of the Federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act.
Google offers its G Suite for education products, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and other services, along with Google Chromebook laptop computers, to school districts across New Mexico at no cost.
In his lawsuit, the attorney general alleges that Google then uses its products to collect large quantities of valuable personal information, without their parents’ consent, from children under 13 who are often required by their schools to use these services.
“Student safety should be the number one priority of any company providing services to our children, particularly in schools,” Balderas said in a statement. “Tracking student data without parental consent is not only illegal, it is dangerous; and my office will hold any company accountable who compromises the safety of New Mexican children.”
The types of information collected include geolocation information, websites visited, terms searched for on Google and YouTube, contact lists, and voice recordings.
Federal law prohibits companies from collecting these types of information from children under 13 without parental consent. The New Mexico Office of the Attorney General filed a similar lawsuit against Google and several other tech companies in 2018, alleging illegal data collection from child-directed mobile apps.
The companies have denied wrongdoing, and the case awaits a decision by a federal judge in Albuquerque.
In addition to filing the suit, Balderas has communicated with schools across New Mexico and let them know that there is no immediate harm to the continued use of these products and that this lawsuit should not interrupt daily instruction in schools.
Balderas also wrote a letter to Google’s CEO demanding that the company immediately cease the practice.
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