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Google pledges to work on child data safety in settlement

New Mexico alleged that Google violated federal and state child privacy laws.


Andrew Wyrich


Published Dec 15, 2021   Updated Dec 15, 2021, 10:07 am CST

Google has agreed to settle two lawsuits from New Mexico that both accused the big tech giant of violating several children’s privacy laws.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced the settlement on Monday. The state sued Google last year, alleging that the company illegally collected information on school children through its educational suite of products.

The state said Google violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the state’s Unfair Practices Act by collecting a variety of information like which websites children visited and videos they watched on YouTube. The suit said that up until 2014, Google used the information it gleaned from its education products at New Mexico schools “for advertising purposes.”

As part of the settlement, Google will fund an initiative in the state to “promote education, privacy, and safety for New Mexico children across the state,” Balderas’ office said in a statement.

The tech giant will also require apps on the Play Store to use age-screening tools to make sure they do not collect information on children who are younger than 13. The attorney general’s office also said the company will work on “increasing parents’ visibility into what information apps are collecting from their children.”

“There are incredible risks lurking online and we should do everything we can to protect the privacy of children,” Balderas said in a statement. “I’m pleased that we demanded Google put the safety of our school children first and that we’re able to partner with Google in our shared commitment to innovation and education, putting these funds where they can do the most good.”

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*First Published: Dec 15, 2021, 9:29 am CST