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Google G Suite for Education Collects Children’s Biometrics BIPA Class Action

The complaint for this class action notes that Google, Inc. has “provid[ed] access to its ‘ChromeBook’ laptops … to over half of the nation’s school children…” A good deed? The complaint suggests that it may not be. While the children are using Google’s G Suite for Education software, which is installed on each of the ChromeBooks, the complaint alleges that Google is actually collecting “face templates” or facial scans and voiceprints, as well as other personally identifying information (PII). This case is brought against Google under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

The class for this action is all persons who, while using the G Suite for Education platform at a primary or secondary school in Illinois, had their voiceprint or face template collected by Google after March 26, 2015.

Biometric information is unique among other kinds of PII in that it cannot be erased and replaced. That is, if cybercriminals get hold of your credit card number, you can stop using that account and get a new one, with a new card and new card number. But if your fingerprints are stolen, you cannot get a new set of fingers with different fingerprints.

With BIPA, Illinois has made a basic attempt at regulating the collection, storage, and use of biometrics by private companies. BIPA requires that private businesses that wish to collect and use people’s biometrics do a number of things:

  • They must tell the people in writing that their biometrics will be collected and stored.
  • They must tell the people in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their biometrics are being collected, stored, and used.
  • They must obtain a written release from the people agreeing to the collection of their biometrics.
  • They must put out a publicly-available written retention schedule along with guidelines for the permanent destruction of the biometrics.

The complaint alleges that Google has violated BIPA because it does not do these things. It claims, for example, that Google has gone ahead and collected this information “without seeking, much less obtaining the requisite informed written consent from any of their parents or other legal guardians.”

In addition to taking facial scans and voiceprints, Google records other information, including such things as the children’s locations, the websites they access, the words they use in searches and the results they click on, the YouTube videos they watch, their personal contact lists, and so on.

The plaintiffs in this case are two children, identified only as HK and JC, with the class action brought by their father, Clinton Farwell, “to stop Google from further violating the BIPA-protected privacy rights of children in Illinois in connection with their use of the ‘G Suite for Education’ platform, and to recover statutory damages for Google’s unauthorized collection, storage, and use of Illinois students’ biometric data in violation of BIPA.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Google G Suite for Education Collects Children’s Biometrics BIPA Complaint

November 19, 2020

The complaint for this class action notes that Google, Inc. has “provid[ed] access to its ‘ChromeBook’ laptops … to over half of the nation’s school children…” A good deed? The complaint suggests that it may not be. While the children are using Google’s G Suite for Education software, which is installed on each of the ChromeBooks, the complaint alleges that Google is actually collecting “face templates” or facial scans and voiceprints, as well as other personally identifying information (PII). This case is brought against Google under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Google G Suite for Education Collects Children’s Biometrics BIPA Complaint

Case Event History

Google G Suite for Education Collects Children’s Biometrics BIPA Complaint

November 19, 2020

The complaint for this class action notes that Google, Inc. has “provid[ed] access to its ‘ChromeBook’ laptops … to over half of the nation’s school children…” A good deed? The complaint suggests that it may not be. While the children are using Google’s G Suite for Education software, which is installed on each of the ChromeBooks, the complaint alleges that Google is actually collecting “face templates” or facial scans and voiceprints, as well as other personally identifying information (PII). This case is brought against Google under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Google G Suite for Education Collects Children’s Biometrics BIPA Complaint
Tags: BIPA, Biometric Data, Taking/Storing/Using Biometric Data, Your Privacy