Is Google Profiling Its Education Users?

Data Privacy

Is Google Profiling Its Education Users?

Feb 24, 2014

GAFE GAFFE: reports that Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is mining student data generated through Gmail even when schools disable the ad-serving mechanism. Writes SafeGov President, Jeff Gould:

In a remarkable pretrial document filed by Google’s lawyers, Google explicitly admits for the first time that it scans the email of Google Apps for Education users for ad-serving purposes even when ad serving is turned off. The issue at stake in the case is whether Google has properly informed its users and obtained their consent for data mining and ad serving in Gmail and, by extension, in Google Apps for Education. In the filing in question Google’s lawyers seek to prove that email users must have consented to Google’s email scanning practices – if only “impliedly” – because these practices have been widely discussed in the press and can thus be considered to be universally known.

The 2300 word exposé makes it clear that even though GAFE isn't serving targeted ads to students (at least not within school walls), it is mining user data beyond age, gender, and location. Exactly how much student data is being mined and how much users understand this process is shrouded in constantly changing software agreements, FAQs, and other legalese. is the brainchild of Karen Evans, who ran the Office of Management and Budget's information technology shop during the Bush administration.

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