Full privacy evaluation | See all
Thumbnail
Updated December 20, 2018

Google Classroom

  • Intended for children under 13.
  • Collection or use of data is limited to product requirements.
  • Personal information is displayed publicly.
  • Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
  • Notice is provided in the event of a data breach.
  • Parental consent is required.
Indicates that the product meets all our required privacy safeguards, but more research should be completed prior to use.
Use Responsibly
Full evaluation
71
Overall Scoreinfo-bubble

This overall score represents how the service addressed all our evaluation questions. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive policies.

Overview

Google Classroom is a free web service developed by Google and part of the G Suite for Education to help schools streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students. Students using Google Classroom can view assignments, submit homework, and receive grades from teachers to help them stay on track and organized. The G Suite for Education core services are the heart of Google’s educational offering to schools. The core services include Gmail, Calendar, Classroom, Contacts, Drive, Docs, Groups, Sheets, Sites, Slides, Talk/Hangouts and Vault. More than 50 million students, teachers and administrators in almost every country in the world rely on G Suite to learn and work together.

Google’s terms state they use information to help improve the safety and reliability of the services. G Suite for Education requires users create a Google Account which is created and managed by a school for use by students and educators. Google’s terms state they are fully committed to the security and privacy of users’ data and protecting users and schools from attempts to compromise it. LasGoogle’s terms state they make contractual commitments in their G Suite for Education agreement and commit to comply with privacy and security standards.

Google Classroom can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. The Privacy Policy (which takes effect on January 22, 2019) and Terms of Service used for this evaluation can be found on Google Classroom’s website, iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

This evaluation is intended to provide key information about Google Classroom's collection and use of data for G Suite for Education users. Where there are terms that differ, as with the limitations on advertising in G Suite for Education, the G Suite for Education Agreement takes precedence, followed by the G Suite for Education Privacy Notice, and then the Google Privacy Policy.

Additionally, other relevant policies used for this evaluation include:

Read the Common Sense standard privacy report (SPR)arrow
The standard privacy report (SPR) displays the most important privacy practices from a product’s polices in a single easy-to-read outline. The report displays an alert when a particular privacy practice is risky, unclear, or not evaluated. This alert indicates more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.
SafetyPromoting responsible use
arrow
Evaluating safety takes into consideration best practices that protect a user's physical and emotional health. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to safety.
44

Google’s terms state they use information to help improve the safety and reliability of the services. This includes detecting, preventing, and responding to fraud, abuse, security risks, and technical issues that could harm Google, its users, or the public. A school may allow students to access Google services such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Sites. These services enable students to collaborate with their peers and teachers in real-time, allowing them to share their work, get feedback, and make edits instantaneously. They can be kept private, shared with others (such as a parent, or the entire class), or even made public. When users share information publicly, it may be indexable by search engines, including Google. The services provide users with various options for sharing and removing content.

PrivacyProtecting collected information
arrow
Evaluating privacy takes into consideration best practices that protect the disclosure of a user's personal information. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to privacy.
66

G Suite for Education requires users create a Google Account which is created and managed by a school for use by students and educators. The terms state when creating this account, the school may provide Google with certain personal information about its students and educators, which includes a user’s name, email address, and password in most cases, but could also include secondary email, phone, and address if the school chooses to provide that information. Google may also collect personal information directly from users of G Suite for Education accounts, such as telephone number, profile photo or other information they add to a G Suite for Education account.

The G Suite for Education core services include Gmail, Calendar, Classroom, Contacts, Drive, Docs, Forms, Groups, Sheets, Sites, Slides, Talk/Hangouts, Vault, and Chrome Sync. These services are provided to a school under its G Suite for Education agreement. Besides the Core Services, G Suite for Education users may have access to other Google services that are generally available for consumers, such as Google Maps, Blogger, and YouTube. The terms call these “additional services” since they are outside of the G Suite for Education core services.

For G Suite for Education users in primary and secondary (K-12) schools, Google does not collect or use any user personal information (or any information associated with a G Suite for Education Account) for advertising purposes or to create advertising profiles, whether in core services or other google services accessed while using a G Suite for Education account. However, parents and educators should be aware Google may serve ads to G Suite for Education users in the “additional services,” but administrators have the ability to restrict access to those additional services. Lastly, Google’s terms state they do not assume ownership of any user data in the G Suite core services, and do not share or sell users’ G Suite data to third parties.

SecurityProtecting against unauthorized access
arrow
Evaluating security takes into consideration best practices that protect the integrity and confidentiality of a user's data. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to security.
93

Google’s terms state they are fully committed to the security and privacy of users’ data and protecting users and schools from attempts to compromise it. Google claims its systems are among the industry’s most secure and they vigorously resist any unlawful attempt to access customers’ data. Google’s terms state all facilities used to store and process user data adhere to reasonable security standards no less protective than the security standards at facilities where Google stores and processes its own information of a similar type. Google’s terms further describe it has implemented industry standard systems and procedures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data, protect against anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of user data, and protect against unauthorized access to or use of user data.

In addition, Google’s data centers use custom hardware running a custom hardened operating system and file system. Each of these systems has been optimized for security and performance. The terms state that because Google controls the entire hardware stack, they are able to quickly respond to any threats or weaknesses that may emerge. Google’s terms specify they will take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with all security measures by its employees, contractors and subprocessors to the extent applicable to their scope of performance, including ensuring that all persons authorized to process personal data have committed themselves to confidentiality or are under an appropriate statutory obligation of confidentiality.

Google’s terms also state they encrypt Gmail (including attachments) and Google Drive data. In addition, user data that is uploaded or created in G Suite services is encrypted at rest. The terms state data is encrypted at several levels. Google forces HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) for all transmissions between users and G Suite services and uses Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) for all its services. Google also encrypts message transmissions with other mail servers using 256-bit Transport Layer Security (TLS) and utilizes 2048 RSA encryption keys for the validation and key exchange phases. This protects message communications when users send and receive emails with external parties also using TLS. PFS requires that the private keys for a connection are not kept in persistent storage. Anyone who breaks a single key can no longer decrypt months’ worth of connections; in fact, not even the server operator is able to retroactively decrypt HTTPS sessions.

Lastly, if Google becomes aware of a unauthorized data breach, the terms state Google will notify users of the data breach promptly and without undue delay, and promptly take reasonable steps to minimize harm and secure user’s data.

ComplianceFollowing statutory laws and regulations
arrow
Evaluating compliance takes into consideration best practices of companies that collect personal information from children or students and the legal obligations for the privacy and security of that information. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to compliance.
78

Google’s terms state they make contractual commitments in their G Suite for Education agreement and commit to comply with privacy and security standards. Whether it’s real time dashboards to verify system performance, ongoing auditing of Google’s processes or sharing the location of Google’s data centers, the terms state Google is committed to providing all its users with utmost transparency.

G Suite for Education’s terms state its core services comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and if user data includes FERPA Education Records, Google will be considered a "School Official" (as that term is used in FERPA and its implementing regulations) and will comply with FERPA. Additionally, if schools allow users under the age of 13 to use G Suite for Education, Google’s terms state they contractually require schools using G Suite for Education to obtain parental consent as required by COPPA. Schools are also required to obtain parental consent for the collection and use of personal information in the “additional products” that the school may choose to use with students allows End Users to access before allowing any End Users under the age of 18 to use those services.

The parents of G Suite for Education users in Primary/Secondary (K-12) schools can access their child’s personal information, export the data, or request that it be deleted through the school administrator. School administrators can provide for parental access, export, and deletion of personal information consistent with the functionality of the services. The terms further state if a parent wishes to stop any further collection or use of the child's information, the parent can request that the administrator use the service controls available to them to limit the child’s access to features or services, or delete the child’s account entirely.

About Privacy Evaluations

The privacy evaluations have been designed with the help and support of a consortium of schools and districts across the United States. These evaluations are designed to streamline making an informed decision about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria are freely available and will remain freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and the information security primer we released. Vendors are encouraged to use our questions and the information security primer to self-evaluate. You can also learn more about our evaluation process.

Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.