EFF files complaint asking for federal investigation; says Google broke privacy pledge, tracked students

“The EFF is asking for a federal investigation into whether Google broke a pledge to honor student privacy with its educational tools,” Adi Robertson reports for The Verge.

“Today, the group filed a complaint with the FTC, alleging that Google for Education collects a broad range of data on students’ browsing habits and gives administrators too much power to enable that collection,” Robertson reports. “‘We are calling on the FTC to investigate Google’s conduct, stop the company from using student personal information for its own purposes, and order the company to destroy all information it has collected that’s not for educational purposes,’ said EFF staff attorney Sophia Cope in a statement.””

” In early 2015, the company signed the Student Privacy Pledge, a voluntary agreement that bars companies from selling student information, using data for anything but “authorized education purposes,” and changing privacy policies without notice,” Robertson reports. “But the EFF claims that Google goes beyond these limits… Google, meanwhile, disputed the accusations.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: ‘Tis highly likely that the U.S. FTC has already filed EFF’s complaint in the circular file.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.Apple CEO Tim Cook

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Tim Cook gets privacy and encryption: We shouldn’t surrender them to Google – June 4, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook champions privacy, blasts ‘so-called free services’ – June 3, 2015
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Apple CEO Cook: Unlike some other companies, Apple won’t invade your right to privacy – March 2, 2015
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for government, police – even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
U.S. NSA watching, tracking phone users with Google Maps – January 28, 2014
U.S. NSA secretly infiltrated Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say – October 30, 2013
Google has already inserted some U.S. NSA code into Android – July 10, 2013
Court rules NSA doesn’t have to reveal its semi-secret relationship with Google – May 22, 2013
Google’s Eric Schmidt spurns Obama cabinet post offer – December 11, 2012
Obama to reward Google’s Schmidt with Cabinet post? – December 5, 2012
Google outfoxes U.S. FCC – April 17, 2012
Google Street View cars grabbed locations of cellphones, computers – July 26, 2011
Consumer Watchdog calls for probe of Google’s inappropriate relationship with Obama administration – January 25, 2011
FCC cites Android ‘openness’ as reason for neutered ‘Net Neutrality’ – December 22, 2010
U.S. FCC approves so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations – December 21, 2010
Google CEO Schmidt: If you don’t like being in Google Street View then ‘just move’ – October 28, 2010
Consumer Watchdog ads mock Google CEO Eric Schmidt (with video) – September 2, 2010
Google CEO Schmidt: Change your name to escape ‘cyber past’ – August 18, 2010
Wired: Google, CIA Invest in ‘future’ of Web monitoring – July 29, 2010
37 states join probe into Google’s questionable Wi-Fi data collection – July 22, 2010
Google Street View Wi-Fi data included passwords and email – June 18, 2010

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. Why am I not surprised? Google thinks they’re entitled to do this because they offer their service for free. The solution is to stop using their shitty service and start using a paid service. I have an awesome email service provider who would never do this. They don’t need to. They make their money off of paid services instead of selling my information.

  2. Google makes many many billions of dollars per year selling data they collect as professional Peeping Toms. They have a history of disregarding agreements not to spy on their users, and have paid penalties imposed by regulators.

    In my opinion, anyone that uses any Google (Alphabet) product has given up all presumptions of privacy. The idea that anyone would place any trust in Google because they signed on to some voluntary pledge to respect privacy is laughable, IMNSHO.

  3. My kids go to a school system that has bought into the Chromebook/Google Classroom paradigm (high school level). I’ve ‘introduced’ the idea of privacy breaches to the IT staff at the school on a number of occasions while using Google products. Their responses fall into two general categories:

    1. It happens with all companies
    2. There’s an extremely low likelihood that it’ll be an issue with us.

    Clearly, Google has the market cornered with their free/cheap offerings, enough so that anyone can and will rationalize their decision to use Google services. The benefits outweigh the risks in their minds, especially when ‘privacy’ is such an intangible concept, unless you’re directly affected by privacy breaches. I see their point, but I don’t agree. For those of us who are old enough to remember the information garnered from practices like wiretapping and bugging, and how that information was used by officials (and criminals) against the common Joe, the current system of data warehousing (a permanent and omnipresent collection of any and all information possible, just waiting to be hacked into) is eerily reminiscent of a time gone but not forgotten.

    1. My kids schools have also started using Google classroom. For anyone that does not know, this allows for teachers to assign and manage assignments and projects, with the kids using Google apps (Docs, Sheets, slides) to create documents and gmail/Google Drive accounts to store and transfer their work.

      As Apple has pretty much all the pieces in place (iCloud, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Mobile), it baffles me why they haven’t tied these together in a bundle for “Apple Classroom”.

      Apple used to use education as a pathway to gain future consumers. They don’t seem to care anymore.

      I was somewhat horrified when my daughter came home asking for a chromebook.

      1. Apple has iTunes U. We’ve been using it here in our residency program for a few years now. It does everything Google Classroom does and then some (in fact Google Classroom was developed to compete with iTunes U). Obviously, in a hospital environment, anything Google is forbidden mostly for security reasons but also because Android devices are almost impossible to track and control. We can use iOS devices (they’re trackable and can be easily wiped remotely if need be).

        But Google has the ‘new, neato kid on the block’ image, and many use Google stuff for this reason in addition to the cost ‘benefits’.

          1. It all comes down to cost. Chromebooks are ‘cheaper’ than iPads. Of course, TCO is never taken into consideration. And Chromebooks are very limited in what they can do (basically Google apps- my kids use them to read assignments and hand in papers written with Google docs- that’s pretty much it). iPads can certainly do all of that, and more including content creation, integration with a plethora of apps, iBooks, and iTunes U content along with YouTube, etc. But once again, the school IT department has a Google bias (it’s what the cool kids are doing) and they rationalize their choice based on initial costs. It’s 1995 all over again with cheap commodity hardware and Microsoft mentality.

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