New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas initiated a lawsuit against Google on Thursday that accuses the tech giant of collecting the personal information of students (without parental consent) through its educational software.
In response Google called these allegations "factually wrong" but did not elaborate further, according to Reuters.
Reuters further points out that Google sells Chromebook laptops to schools worldwide with a G-Suite for Education software package that has email and writing tools included.
Brian McMath, who serves under Balderas as an Assistant Attorney General, said that they've tested and verified (alongside outside technical experts) that students younger than 13 have had their web browsing, location, passwords, and other info sent to Google after they were given Chromebooks by their schools.
Their suit claims Google violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by failing to acquire "verifiable parental consent" prior to accumulating said data. McMath added that there's no evidence that any info was misused by Google, but that the state fears the company may end up generating revenue from it.
A spokesman for Google, Jose Castaneda, argued that the program "allows schools to control account access and requires that schools obtain parental consent when necessary.”
The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the very law New Mexico claims is being violated, has said that schools that use the software are essentially consenting for kids when they evaluate and then proceed to buy it.
In 2019, Baldera (along with state attorneys from almost two dozen other states) asked for reassessment of that reasoning by saying that it gave Google too much reach to track minors without their parents' knowledge.
Back in 2018 Balderas also sued Google, in addition to a couple other tech companies, over accusations that it was illegally obtaining data from mobile apps geared towards children. That suit is yet to be decided in federal court.
As a further history lesson, this past September YouTube, which is owned by Google, was asked by the FTC to pay a $170 million settlement in order to compensate for allegations that it violated federal law by collecting info on children.