Wired has a fascinating story about a Danish school system that temporarily dumped Google because no one seems to know exactly what Google does with your kid’s data:
But he now finds Google’s involvement in Danish public schools sinister, and he wants the company out of the system. “Everything [children do] in school is in the cloud, via Workspace, which means everything they write in their machine is sent to Google,” he says. “We have given Google access to a whole generation.”
The main issue Graugaard has highlighted is that they don’t really understand what students’ Google data is used for or where it goes. “Google is always saying, we don’t use the data of pupils for targeted advertising. We do not sell the data to third parties,” says Jesper Lund, chair of digital rights group IT Pol Denmark. But there is concern that Google does use students’ data for other purposes, such as improving its services or training artificial intelligence, he adds.A Danish City Built Google Into Its Schools—Then Banned It | WIRED
Google, of course, blames the schools:
It’s up to Helsingør to get Google to mend its products to be in line with GDPR, says Frank. Helsingør municipality did not reply to WIRED’s request for comment. But Google implies it’s the municipality that needs to improve. “We’re working with Helsingør municipality to answer questions, improve their technical settings, and share best practices from other European schools that have done risk assessments and use our products,” says Alexandra Ahtiainen, head of Google for Education for Northern EuropeA Danish City Built Google Into Its Schools—Then Banned It | WIRED
What the article does not do, because it is a Wired article and Wired has never gotten its early techno-utopian beginnings completely out of its system, is actually interrogate what google actually does with student data it collects.
Turns out, this is a moderately hard question to answer. In 2016, Senator Franken got the company to admit that, yes, they do use some student data for commercial purposes:
Online-services giant Google has acknowledged that it collects and data-mines for some commercial purposes a wide range of personal information on student users who log in through its popular Apps for Education service, then venture to the company’s search engine and other products.Google Acknowledges Data Mining Student Users Outside Apps for Education (edweek.org)
In 2020, New Mexico sued Google over privacy concerns. The suit was dismissed on what appears ot b a technicality, and Google denied that the information was used for tarting ads. But that doesn’t mean that the information could not be used in perfecting ads or held onto and used later in life as part of the profile when the child reaches adulthood. Finding detailed information on those aspects of the data use eluded me.
Bluntly, Google, a company built on ad revenue is not especially transparent on how or when it uses your children’s data, only that it does use that data for commercial reasons, such as improving products. For a company that depends on keeping your attention, improving products often means keeping you addicted to them. For Google, the user is the product.
How comfortable are you with your children being products?