NM AG Balderas Sues Google for Illegally Collecting Personal Data of New Mexican School Children

February 20, 2020

Attorney General Hector Balderas today filed a lawsuit against Google, LLC alleging the tech giant is illegally collecting personal information from New Mexico school children under 13, in violation of the Federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act. Google offers its G Suite forEducation products (including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and other services), along with Google Chromebook laptop computers, to school districts across New Mexico at no cost. In his lawsuit, the Attorney General alleges that Google then uses its products to collect large quantities of valuable personal information, without their parents’ consent, from children under 13 who are often required by their schools to use these services.

“Student safety should be the number one priority of any company providing services to our children, particularly in schools,” said Attorney General Balderas. “Tracking student data without parental consent is not only illegal, it is dangerous; and my office will hold any company accountable who compromises the safety of New Mexican children.”

The types of information collected include geolocation information, websites visited, terms searched for on Google and YouTube, contact lists, voice recordings, and more. Federal law prohibits companies from collecting these types of information from children under 13 without parental consent. The New Mexico Office of the Attorney General filed a similar lawsuit against Google and several other tech companies in September 2018, alleging illegal data collection from child-directed mobile apps.

The companies have denied wrongdoing, and the case awaits a decision by a federal judge in Albuquerque.

In addition to filing the suit, Attorney General Balderas has communicated with schools across New Mexico and let them know that there is no immediate harm to the continued use of these products and that this lawsuit should not interrupt daily instruction in our schools. Attorney General Balderas also wrote a letter to Google’s Chief Executive Officer demanding that the company immediately cease the practice.

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