New Mexico Attorney General to sue Google over student privacy concerns

Updated: Feb. 25, 2020 at 6:26 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The New Mexico Attorney General is suing Google after five years of investigation lead to the discovery of the company collecting information from students such as location and search history.

“It’s un-American to have the burden on a 10-year-old to protect their privacy. These technology companies know better, and I want to make sure that they stop tracking school children. It’s not necessary for them to really partner in the educational experience, and that’s what parents don’t know,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Balderas says to collect information from children under the age of 12 is illegal.

“We have over 60 percent of New Mexico schools using Google products, but I can tell you they’re in the business in educating children. They don’t have time to check the privacy settings on all of their technology, and so Google is not being a good steward if they are somehow expecting teachers to control these privacy settings,” said Balderas.

Students use Google for assignments daily.

Some of those schools are in the Clovis Municipal School District.

“We’ve been using Chrome Books for about a year and a half now, and basically what will happen is a teacher will go into a Google classroom environment, create an assignment for the students to work on, and then the students are required to use their Chrome Books to work on those assignments,” said Eric Wimbish, executive director of technology for Clovis Municipal School District.

However, Wimbish says after the recent lawsuit, they’re not too worried.

They have taken steps to turn off any tracking and even block certain websites while using the devices provided by the school.

“We take it very serious when it comes to student information. Even the third parties that Google works with, we go through a very rigorous process of insuring that those vendors and Google are still meeting the same state and federal laws as far as interacting with the data that we provide to them,” said Wimbish.

The Attorney General says the issue isn’t necessarily about students safety while using school issued devices, but more focused on when students go home and use personal devices that don’t have the tracking disabled to access their Google account.

Attorney General Balderas has not heard back from Google yet but says they have a month to respond to the lawsuit.

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