Due to the COVID-19 pandemic millions of students are taking online elementary school classes.
Two California school children filed a complaint against Google for violating state and federal child privacy regulations aimed to keep children safe online, stating that the company is allegedly collecting their voice-prints, face-prints and other personally identifiable information (PII).
According to the Federal law, the companies are prohibited from collecting information like geolocation information, websites visited, words searched for on Google and YouTube, contact lists, voice recordings etc. from children under 13 without parental consent.
The complaint alleges that Google has violated both Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). BIPA requires private entities to first get the informed consent before collecting the bio-metrics, including face-prints and voice-prints. COPPA requires websites and online services to completely disclose their data collection, use, and disclosure practices and that they obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing the data they collect from children younger than 13.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by complainants H.K. and J.C., both minors, through their father Clinton Farwell.
The California suit alleges that Google collected the data of not only of the two plaintiffs, but also of millions of other children across the country.
Google collected this information through the Google Chromebook. According to the complaint, Google has infiltrated the country’s primary and secondary school systems by distributing its Chromebook laptops, pre-installed with its G Suite for Education platform. That suite includes student versions of Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and other Google apps.
To use those apps, the kids had to speak into the laptop’s audio recording device for Google to record their voices, and they had to look into the laptop’s camera to scan their faces.
Besides, Chromebooks, Google Classroom app is also available for use on any device.
The complainants are requesting a jury trial. They want Google to stop collecting the data and to destroy whatever data it has. The suit is also seeking $5,000 per student for each of Google’s alleged “intentional or reckless” violations, and $1,000 for each “negligent” violation.