The New Mexico attorney general announced Thursday that she's suing Google for allegedly collecting student data through its Chromebooks and using it in violation of the state's privacy laws.
In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Attorney General Hector Balderas said he's accusing Google of violating the state's Student Privacy Protection Act because of its billing practices and ways that students could share information with third parties.
"Consumers have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the personal information they collect and store in electronic devices," said Balderas in a statement. "I have many concerns about Google's policy for gathering data from Chromebooks for commercial purposes and, as the ITA Software case shows, it's not the business practices that cause me concern, it's the way it's being used."
Balderas' criticism isn't completely theoretical. In May of last year, a jury in Florida found Google in violation of that state's privacy laws and awarded a former college student $9.6 million for the privacy violations. Google has appealed the case.
In the New Mexico lawsuit, Balderas said Google "collects extensive amounts of student data through the company's overly broad online tracking cookie technology." He says there's no data breach in the suit, but since the system collects information on a student's entire school and past attendance, it's much more accurate and is also a violation of the state's privacy laws.
Balderas says Google is refusing to turn over information about the information it collects, despite a previous court order.
"The data we collected with Chromebooks is many years old and concerns only students in New Mexico public schools," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "Because we were operating a New Mexico government contract for our 'Study In Progress' education program, we had to turn over the student data, consistent with the terms of the contract. Google has complied with all New Mexico requests for this data. We will continue to defend against the recent lawsuit."
The suit looks to seek an injunction on Google's practices, $2,000 in legal fees and a civil penalty of $1,000 per day for each of the 25 students it involved, or a minimum of $250,000.
This story has been updated with Google's statement about the complaint and a response from the company.