Google pulls scanning and ads from education apps

Google Education apps

Google Education apps

In addition to its consumer and business services, Google is also in the business of providing apps for education with apps such as Gmail, Drive, Docs, spreadsheets and YouTube for Schools. These apps, according  to the company, serve more than 30 million students, teachers and administrators.

Disclosure: I’m co-director of, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives financial support from Google  and other companies.

Google wrote that “Users who have chosen to show AdSense ads on their Google Sites will still have the ability to display those existing ads on their websites. However, as of October it has not been possible to edit or add new AdSense ads to existing sites or to new pages.”

Google also said that it has “permanently removed the ‘enable/disable’ toggle for ads in the Apps for Education Administrator console. This means ads in Apps for Education services are turned off and administrators no longer have the option or ability to turn ads in these services on.”

Acknowledged scanning per law-suit

As Education Week reported in March, Google acknowledged the scanning in response to a law-suit over  data mining within its education apps.

There had been questions over whether the Google scanning was in violation of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) law which, regulates information that can be collected from and about students.

Recently published guidance from the Office of Education is a little vague about whether it covers services like Google docs. In response to the question “Is Student Information Used in Online Educational Services Protected by FERPA?” the document answers that “It depends. Because of the diversity and variety of online educational services, there is no universal answer to this question.” The document says that “schools and districts will typically need to evaluate the use of online educational services on a case-by-case basis.”

Smart move