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 say 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 say they are fully committed to the security and privacy of users’ data and protecting users and schools from attempts to compromise it. Lastly, Google’s terms say 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 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:

Safety

Google’s terms say 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.

Privacy

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 say 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 say 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.

Security

Google’s terms say 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 say 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 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 say 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 say 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 say 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.

Compliance

Google’s terms say 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 say Google is committed to providing all its users with utmost transparency.

G Suite for Education’s terms say 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.

Lastly, 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 say 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.

Overall Score

Every privacy rating includes an overall score. A higher score (up to 100%) means the product provides more transparent privacy policies with better practices to protect user data. The score is best used is as an indicator of how much additional work a person will need to do to make an informed decision about a product.

Basic ScoreFull Score
Comprehensive Assessment8879

Concerns

The privacy evaluation process summarizes the policies of an application or service into concern categories based on a subset of evaluation questions that can be used to quickly identify particular practices of a vendor’s policies. These concerns are composed of evaluation questions that can be used to calculate scores relative to that concern.

ConcernBasic ScoreFull Score
Data Collection: Protecting personal information7565
Data Sharing: Protecting data from third parties10090
Data Security: Protecting against unauthorized access10095
Data Rights: Controlling rights to data8895
Data Sold: Preventing sale of data7570
Data Safety: Promoting responsible use5070
Ads & Tracking: Prohibiting the exploitation of users' decision making process9265
Parental Consent: Protecting children’s personal information10085
School Purpose: Following student data privacy laws10070

Statutes

Each statute or regulation is associated with one or more evaluation questions. As such, we can calculate scores for each statute or regulation using only those questions associated with the statute or regulation. Each specific statute or regulation's score serves as an indirect proxy indicating the likelihood of the application or service satisfying all of its compliance obligations.

StatuteBasic ScoreFull Score
California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)9283
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)8574
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)9471
Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA)9677
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)9688

Privacy Policy Details

1: Transparency

1.1: Policy Version
  • Privacy policies do indicate a version or effective date.
  • Privacy policies indicate a changelog or past policy version is available.
1.2: Policy Notice
  • Users are notified if there are any material changes to the policies.
  • Privacy policies indicate the method used to notify a user when policies are updated.
1.3: Policy Changes
  • Users are notified prior to any material changes to the policies.
  • Changes to the policies are effective immediately and continued use of the product indicates consent.
1.4: Policy Coverage
  • Privacy policies indicate the products that are covered by the policies.
1.5: Policy Contact
  • Users can contact the vendor about any privacy policy questions, complaints, or material changes to the policies.
1.6: Policy Principles
  • Privacy policies do indicate any privacy principles, layered notices, or a table of contents.
1.7: Policy Language
  • Privacy policies are available in multiple languages.
1.8: Intended Use
  • Intended for children under 13.
  • Intended for teens.
  • Intended for adults over 18.
  • Intended for parents or guardians.
  • Intended for students.
  • Intended for teachers.

2: Focused Collection

2.1: Data Collection
  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Geolocation data are collected.
  • Biometric or health data are collected.
  • Behavioral data are collected.
  • Sensitive data are collected.
  • Non-personally identifiable information is collected.
  • Unclear whether free or reduced lunch status is collected.
2.2: Data Source
  • Personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Personal information from children under 13 years of age is collected online.
2.3: Data Exclusion
  • Unclear whether specific types of personal information are not collected.
  • Specific types of collected information are excluded from the privacy policy.
2.4: Data Limitation
  • Collection or use of data is limited to product requirements.

3: Data Sharing

3.1: Data Shared With Third Parties
  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • The categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
3.2: Data Use by Third Parties
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
3.3: Data Not Shared With Third Parties
  • Specific categories of information are not shared with third parties.
3.4: Data Sold to Third Parties
  • Data are not sold or rented to third parties.
3.5: Third-Party Data Acquisition
  • Personal information from users is acquired from third parties.
3.6: Third-Party Links
  • Links to third-party external websites are not age-appropriate.
3.7: Third-Party Data Access
  • Third parties are authorized to access a user's information.
3.8: Third-Party Data Collection
  • Personal information of users is collected by a third party.
3.9: Third-Party Data Misuse
  • Personal information can be deleted from a third party if found to be misused.
3.10: Third-Party Service Providers
  • Data are shared with third-party service providers.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
3.11: Third-Party Affiliates
  • The categories of third parties that receive personal information are indicated.
3.12: Third-Party Policies
  • Links to privacy policies of third-party companies are available.
3.13: Third-Party Data Combination
  • Data can be combined with data from third-party sources.
  • Unclear whether data shared with third parties can be combined by third parties for their own purposes.
3.14: Third-Party Authentication
  • Social or federated login is supported.
  • Personal information from social or federated login providers is collected.
  • Personal Information is shared with social or federated login providers.
3.15: De-identified or Anonymized Data
  • User information is shared in an anonymous or deidentified format.
  • Unclear whether the vendor describes their deidentification process of user information.
3.16: Third-Party Contractual Obligations
  • Contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying deidentified information.

4: Respect for Context

4.1: Data Use
  • Use of information is limited to the purpose for which it was collected.
  • The purpose for which data atr collected is indicated.
4.2: Data Combination
  • Combined information is treated as personally identifiable information (PII).
4.3: Data Notice
  • Notice is provided if the context in which data are collected changes.
4.4: Data Changes
  • Consent is obtained if the practices in which data are collected change.
4.5: Policy Enforcement
  • Accounts may be terminated if users engage in any prohibited activities.

5: Individual Control

5.1: User Content
  • Users can create or upload content.
5.2: User Consent
  • Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
5.3: Remedy Process
  • A grievance or remedy mechanism is available for users to file a complaint.
5.4: Data Settings
  • Users can control their information through privacy settings.
5.5: Data Disclosure
  • Users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • Unclear whether users can request to know what personal information has been shared with third parties for commercial purposes.
  • Notice is provided in the event the vendor receives a government or legal request for a user’s information.
5.6: Intellectual Property
  • Users retain ownership of their data.
  • A copyright license is claimed to data or content collected from a user.
  • Any copyright license to a user's data is limited in scope or duration.
  • Notice is provided to users when their content is removed or disabled because of an alleged copyright violation.

6: Access and Accuracy

6.1: Data Access
  • Processes to access and review user data are available.
  • Permissions, roles, or access controls are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Processes to review data are available for the school, parents, or students.
6.2: Data Integrity
  • The vendor does maintain the accuracy of data they collect.
6.3: Data Correction
  • Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to modify data are available.
  • The time period for the vendor to modify inaccurate data is indicated.
6.4: Data Retention
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • The retention time period of a user's data can be changed upon a valid inspection request.
6.5: Data Deletion
  • Data are deleted when no longer necessary.
  • A user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Processes to delete user data are available.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to delete data are available.
  • The time period for the vendor to delete data is indicated.
6.6: Data Portability
  • Processes to download user data are available.
  • A user can assign an authorized account manager or legacy contact.

7: Data Transfer

7.1: Data Handling
  • User information can be transferred to a third party.
  • Notice is not provided to users if the vendor assigns its rights or delegates its duties to another company.
  • Users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
7.2: Transfer Request
  • User information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
7.3: Onward Contractual Obligations
  • Third-party transfer is contractually required to use the same privacy practices.

8: Security

8.1: User Identity
  • A user's identity is verified with additional personal information.
8.2: User Account
  • Account creation is required.
  • Parental controls or managed accounts are available.
  • Two-factor account protection is available.
8.3: Third-Party Security
  • Third-party contractual security protections are required.
8.4: Data Confidentiality
  • Industry best practices are used to protect data.
  • Employee or physical access to user information is limited.
8.5: Data Transmission
  • All data in transit are encrypted.
8.6: Data Storage
  • All data at rest are encrypted.
  • Personal information of users is not stored with a third party.
8.7: Data Breach
  • Notice is provided in the event of a data breach.
8.8: Data Oversight
  • Data-privacy and security-compliance audits are performed.

9: Responsible Use

9.1: Social Interactions
  • Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information is shared for social interactions.
9.2: Data Visibility
  • Personal information is displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed.
9.3: Monitor and Review
  • User-created content is reviewed, screened, or monitored by the vendor.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Unclear whether social interactions between users are moderated.
  • Social interactions of users are logged.
9.4: Report Content
  • Users can filter or block inappropriate content.
  • Users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
9.5: Internet Safety
  • The vendor provides links to tools or processes that support safe and appropriate social interactions.

10: Advertising

10.1: Vendor Communications
  • A user can receive service- or administrative-related communications from the vendor.
10.2: Traditional Advertising
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
10.3: Behavioral Advertising
  • Behavioral or targeted advertising is not displayed.
10.4: Ad Tracking
  • Data are not collected by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Data are not used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are not created and used for data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
10.5: Filtered Advertising
  • Children do not receive any inappropriate advertisements.
10.6: Marketing Communications
  • Unclear whether this vendor can send marketing messages.
  • Unclear whether this vendor provides promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
10.7: Unsubscribe
  • Users can opt out of traditional, contextual, or behavioral advertising.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
10.8: Do Not Track
  • Unclear whether this product responds to Do Not Track or other opt-out mechanisms.
  • The vendor does provide a method for users to opt-out from third-party tracking.

11: Compliance

11.1: Children Under 13
  • Vendor does have actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • Children's privacy is applicable.
  • Account creation is restricted for users under 13 years of age.
  • Unclear whether this product restricts in-app purchases for users under 13 years of age.
  • Unclear whether the vendor participates in an FTC-approved COPPA safe harbor program.
11.2: Students in K–12
  • Product is primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Product does create education records.
  • Notification of a contract or additional rights is provided.
  • Vendor is designated as a school official.
11.3: Parental Consent
  • Parental consent is required.
  • Parental consent is limited with respect to third parties.
  • Parents can withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Unclear whether this product deletes children's personal information if collected without parental consent.
  • Parental consent notice and method for submission are provided.
  • Unclear whether the vendor can use collected information to support the “internal operations” of the product.
  • Unclear whether this product indicates COPPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether the vendor indicates FERPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether this product discloses directory information.
  • Parental consent obligations are transferred to the school or district.
11.4: Legal Requirements
  • The legal jurisdiction that applies to the laws governing any dispute is indicated.
  • Unclear whether a user is required to waive the right to a jury trial, or settle any disputes by arbitration.
  • Unclear whether a user is required to waive the right to join a class action lawsuit.
  • A vendor will disclose personal information to law enforcement.
11.5: Certification
  • The vendor has signed a privacy pledge or received a privacy certification.
11.6: International Laws
  • A user's data are subject to International data transfer or jurisdiction laws, such as the GDPR.
  • The vendor has indicated it is a Data Controller or Data Processor.