San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a complaint today with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Google for collecting and data mining school children’s personal information, including their Internet searches—a practice EFF uncovered while researching its “Spying on Students” campaign, which launched today.
Understanding and using technology is fundamental to education in the 21st century. As a result, many school districts around the country are making use of cloud-based educational platforms and assigning laptops and tablets to students. Almost one third of all students—elementary through high school—already use school-issued digital devices, and many of these devices present a serious risk to student privacy.
Now, EFF is spreading the word about companies collecting students’ data and launching a campaign to educate parents and administrators about these risks to student privacy. Children usually have little or no say about which devices they’re assigned, and we believe that the safety of their sensitive personal information should lie in the hands of parents and trusted school officials – not private companies.
You can help us investigate school surveillance by taking our survey. The results will help us paint a nation-wide portrait of which cloud platforms are in use, which devices are being assigned, and where. You can read a case study of one family in Roseville, California and learn more in our FAQ.
Update December 17, 2015: Added an explanation of how to encrypt Chrome Sync data so that students can take advantage of Chrome Sync without sharing their browsing history and other personal information with Google, and pointed out that enabling autofill and password saving is OK if Chrome Sync is disabled or encrypted.
If your child’s school issued them a Chromebook, there are some important settings you can chance to improve their privacy. Be sure to also check out our Guide to Google Account Privac