Google will pay two fines totaling $170 million in a settlement over allegations its YouTube service collected the personal information of children without parental consent, ABC News reported. The company also agreed to change its data collection practice, as well as add warning labels on videos geared toward minors.
The fines break down to $136 million going to the Federal Trade Commission and $34 million going to New York state. The federal government is taking steps to more closely monitor big tech companies and question how personal information is being collected.
A 1998 federal law protects children under 13 from data collection without a parent’s consent, but YouTube targeted its young viewers with advertisements the same way it would target adults.
The development of ed tech is moving lightning fast, but unfortunately security isn’t keeping up. The Google settlement highlights the fact tech companies often seek customer data to use for targeted marketing. This is all the more reason for schools to be vigilant about which vendors have access to student information and how much.
Some districts, such as the Houston Independent School District, use safe-app rubrics that assess all non-approved apps. The rubric includes requirements that the apps have high-encryption capabilities and data standards. Kristy Sailors, director of educational technology in the district, vets each ed tech app request before setting it loose in a school.
A searchable library of ed tech products called Check the Privacy attempts to make vetting a little easier for districts. The free resource includes reviews of 7,000 technology products as well as resources from education privacy groups Student Data Privacy Consortium, the Data Quality Campaign and the Future of Privacy Forum. A 20-member advisory board maintains the library, keeping it updated on a regular basis.
Recent security concerns over personal assistant devices means schools are also being more careful about accidently disclose personal information about students that would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. If such devices are used in a classroom, teachers must inform the parents and get their approval.