Google’s “do no evil” motto is being challenged this week in a complaint charging the company with secretly collecting and storing data on school children through its Chromebook and Apps for Education program.
The complaint, filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation with the FTC, accuses Google of unfair and deceptive business practices for monitoring the online activity of students who use its Chrome browser without obtaining their permission.
The EFF found that Google’s Chrome browser has its “Sync” feature enabled by default on Chromebook laptops the company has sold to schools through its educational program. “This allows Google to track, store on its servers, and data mine for non-advertising purposes, records of every Internet site students visit, every search term they use, the results they click on, videos they look for and watch on YouTube, and their saved passwords,” the civil liberties group said in a statement. “Google doesn’t first obtain permission from students or their parents and since some schools require students to use Chromebooks, many parents are unable to prevent Google’s data collection.”
This directly violates a privacy agreement Google signed, along with about 200 other companies, promising to refrain from collecting, using, or sharing the personal information of students except for legitimate educational purposes or when parents grant permission.