The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) [advocacy website] filed a personal privacy violation complaint [text, PDF] on Tuesday with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] against Google [corporate website]. The complaint outlines that the default “sync” setting of Chromebooks [product website] sold to schools allows Google to track and maintain the records of all student Internet activity conducted while using the product, including sites visited, saved passwords and search terms used. The EFF also details how this collection of information violates the legally-enforceable Student Privacy Pledge [text] that Google endorsed. In this pledge, signors committed to the “responsible stewardship and appropriate use of student personal information” and promised not to collect student data for anything other than educational purposes. The EFF requests that the FTC investigate Google’s actions and destroy all private student information collected that is not necessary for educational purposes, or in the alternative, asks the FTC to order Google to withdraw from the Student Privacy Pledge.
Google has come under scrutiny for its privacy policies and is currently facing worldwide suits over alleged violations. In February 2014 a French court ruled [JURIST report] that Google must display on its French page that they have been fined by the local data-protection watchdog for how they store user information. In January 2014 the UK High Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Google can be sued by British citizens. In November 2013 the Dutch Data Protection Agency (DPA) [official website, in Dutch] stated that Google was in violation [JURIST report] of the country’s data protection act. Earlier that month a Berlin court held that 25 of Google’s privacy policies and terms of service violated [JURIST report] Germany’s data protection law. In September 2013, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] denied Google’s motion to dismiss [JURIST report] a lawsuit regarding the company’s alleged violation of federal law.