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Google sued for allegedly violating children’s biometric privacy with classroom tools

Google sued for allegedly violating children’s biometric privacy with classroom tools

A lawsuit has been brought against Google by a pair of children from Illinois alleging the tech giant collected biometric information, including facial scans and voice prints, with its educational software, Cnet reports.

The suit was filed to a federal court in California by the children’s father, and is seeking class-action status. According to the complaint, Google is providing Chromebooks and free access to its G Suite for Education, through which the company collects biometrics and other personally identifying information “not only to secretly and unlawfully monitor and profile children, but to do so without the knowledge or consent of those children’s parents.”

The practices are alleged to violate Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), as well as the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Damages of $1,000 per class member are sought for negligent violations, and $5,000 for intentional or reckless violations.

Cnet reports that Google dominates American classrooms, and has come to be relied upon even more in recent weeks.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas also sued Google in February, alleging COPPA violations from the collection of students’ locations, website history, search history, contacts, and voice recordings.

Google was also hit with a BIPA lawsuit earlier this year for allegedly using biometric algorithms on images uploaded to its Google Photos service without meeting the informed consent requirements.

Time and attendance technology provider not liable

Lathem Time Co. has few links to the state of Illinois, and therefore cannot face a BIPA lawsuit in state court, Judge Richard Mills of the U.S. District Court for Central Illinois has ruled, dismissing the claim against the biometric time and attendance technology provider, writes Bloomberg Law.

The company has provided services to Hixson Lumber Sales, which employed the plaintiff.

The suit could be refiled in federal court in order to include Lathem, though disclosure of data to a third-party provider has previously been ruled insufficient for standing in federal court.

Suits have also been filed under BIPA against an owner of a Hilton hotel in Illinois and a prepared-food service subsidiary of Elior Inc., each for allegedly violating the Act’s informed consent requirements with their employee fingerprint biometric timekeeping systems, Law360 reports.

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