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Sen. Franken Questions Google About Student Data Privacy

Franken is concerned that student information may be used for non-educational purposes.

Evgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock

Sen. Al Franken has asked Google to explain what it does with the personal, private data of students who use its Google Apps for Education products and Chromebooks.

Franken wrote Wednesday to express concern that Google may be collecting students’ personal data for non-educational purposes without parents’ knowledge or consent.

“I believe Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, and that right includes a student or parent’s access to information about what data are being collected about them and how the data are being used,” Franken wrote.

The request comes in the wake of a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation accusing Google of collecting and using personal student information for non-education purposes in violation of its K-12 Student Privacy Pledge.

Google has said that it did nothing wrong.

“We have responded to the EFF in detail and we’re very happy to provide Senator Franken with more information,” said a Google spokesperson.

Franken, the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Privacy, Technology and the Law subcommittee, asked Google to answer a series of questions about its data collection practices and privacy policy. The company has until Feb. 12 to respond.

As schools bring more computers and tablets into the classroom, a series of complaints have emerged claiming that education technology companies have crossed the line.

Update: This post has been updated to include comment from Google.

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