Ministers: Google’s education programs are not secure enough

Ministers: Google's education programs are not secure enough

Google products used for education are not safe enough. The privacy risks are so high, Education Ministers Van Engelshoven and Klopp wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives.

These are Google Workspace and Google Workspace for Education (formerly G Suite for Education), a suite of programs that enable digital collaboration. This includes apps like Gmail, Google Classroom, and Google Docs.

According to the ministers, Google is currently allowed to decide on its own what to do with the metadata. With this data, the tech company can see, for example, what users are clicking on, how long they log in, and which search queries are being used. It is not about personal data (address) or individual learning outcomes.

In addition, Google can unilaterally amend the terms in this regard, which, according to the ministers, poses a privacy risk. Educational institutions have “insufficient or insufficient control” over their data.

Potential risks

In response, the PO Board described it as undesirable that Google was the owner of the metadata. “This creates potential risks in the future,” says the Education umbrella. For example, the data can be used to place personalized ads.

Cabinet is in talks with Google and the European Commission to arrange data protection. The Dutch data protection authority is also asked for advice. The goal is for schools to be able to continue to use Google products, the education ministers have written.

Very unsafe for civil servants

For now, civil servants will not use Google Workspace, Minister Grapperhaus of Justice wrote in another letter to Parliament. The minister wrote that in the past year, there have been extensive discussions with Google about better data protection, but only a small portion of the objections have been resolved.

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This is why the Netherlands data protection authority is also involved in using the workspace for civil servants.

No surprise

Microsoft products were also examined, but there is no significant risk of this “if the user takes a number of actions”. Actions are described on the Kennisnet website.

The Cabinet has investigated the product privacy risks following a proposal by SP and D66. The results of the investigation did not surprise German Member of Parliament Quint, as he tweeted:

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