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Cloud Services Thread, Signing up to Google Apps in Technical; As far as I can tell, students activating accounts using Google Apps, need to accept two hefty T&C documents regarding ...
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    Signing up to Google Apps

    As far as I can tell, students activating accounts using Google Apps, need to accept two hefty T&C documents regarding Acceptable Use and Googles Privacy Agreement. Isn't there a bit of an issue if schools are requiring students below a certain age to accept these agreements? What have people done to mitigate this?

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    I'm surprised with such a usually informed, vocal and opinionated user base, there isn't a single comment on this. Users are Google's product and schools are pushing students in their care at this corporate monster in large numbers without seemingly much thought as to the consequences for the students. Even apart from the issue of asking children of primary or early secondary age to enter into agreements which send lawyers to sleep, Google have demonstrated that their ethical standard are slippery - witness their response to the gathering of data slurped from wi-fi, or their tax affairs. Is this really a company that we should trust with our children's data?

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Pcstru, to my mind we have debated this several times over. Please do some searching and read grumbledook's posts in particular as he is an expert on this sort of thing whose opinion is valued

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    Ah, OK. I don't recall any discussion and I have done some searching. I'll dig some more but any links to such discussions would be appreciated.

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    Digging done and while I see discussion about backup and security and some vague discussion around "google is evil", I don't see anything about the issue of asking primary and secondary school students to accept legally binding terms and conditions in order to activate a service that the school is basically requiring them to use.

    So a question to anyone in a school that use Google apps - is there a requirement to discuss the T&C's with students before they tick the box? Are the students even encouraged to read through the T&C's or is the reality in the classroom that a teacher will just say "yea, just tick those boxes and press I accept". Is the school knowingly accepting the risk of future liabilities if (say) students discover this has caused google to process data in a way they take a disliking to or if students later discover that they have ceeded distribution rights to their intellectual property by accepting the agreement.
    Last edited by pcstru; 10th May 2013 at 10:02 AM.

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    I've spoke to schools in relation to underage students agreeing T&C's who have had advise from legal people although it was for dropbox/itunes. The accounts are not the students, they are the schools, the school is only allowing the student to use them temporarily. We warned out parents that we where moving to Google and would be bound by their T&C's but not 1 parent had a complaint about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.81 View Post
    The accounts are not the students, they are the schools, the school is only allowing the student to use them temporarily.
    That's an interesting view. Thanks.

    We warned out parents that we where moving to Google and would be bound by their T&C's but not 1 parent had a complaint about it.
    I think it is difficult to think through the issues that could arise. People are also so used to just ticking through the "I have read the agreement" without ever reading them, that they are lulled into believing doing so is without any consequences.

    One of my concerns is how Google brings data together. We think our accounts are separate but the trails we leave, cookies and IP addresses, browser 'footprints' should allow an organisation like google to start linking that to a single identity. It seems to me inevitable that they will do that because for Google, we aren't the customers, we are the product. That's a fundamentally different relationship than we have become used to. People sometimes complain that we are forcing Microsoft Office on students, but while MS has demonstrated some ethically unsound business practices, we are still their customers and Office is the product.

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    I think it's worth adding that whatever the age of the person, these terms and conditions might be legally binding on them. I was inclined to think in terms of family law where minors having a say in legal outcomes has reasonably well defined ages or criteria when they can or can't (have a say/enter into binding agreements). But it is quite possible (more likely) this comes into "capacity", the ability of a person to enter into a contract. Minors are presumed to have capacity to do so, say when buying sweets from a shop.

    I'm not sure if that makes anything any clearer though!

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    I cannot remember the exact lines in the terms but the Google Apps for Education that they said they would not mine the data, history etc due to them being students/children.

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    Indeed, and you can actually turn off ads almost entirely within the core Google Apps suite for education accounts. We're not exactly the product as much as we are a breeding ground for future loyal Google users.

    As for the whole Microsoft vs. Google thing, I don't think either is worse than the other in terms of business practice at this point. There are certainly worse out there. I remember a parent talking recently about how he despised Microsoft in schools, and and how he refused to use Windows at home, and how we should be using open source as much as possible. Then it came out that most of his home hardware was Apple, a company that has done more to create a closed software ecosystem than probably any other in history. I resisted the urge to call him a hypocrite as apparently insulting customers isn't good for the school's pupil numbers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.81 View Post
    I cannot remember the exact lines in the terms but the Google Apps for Education that they said they would not mine the data, history etc due to them being students/children.
    There is a clause in the US version of the agreement which refers to FERPA, (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) but that is a US thing. I don't see anything in the GB version but it's such convoluted legalese I might well have missed it. They are effectively processing data under your DP registration (acting as a supplier) which is interesting. I think our DP registration would cover a 3rd part providing mail and storage services, I'm not clear it would cover Googles mining the data with the intention to serve adverts.

    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    Indeed, and you can actually turn off ads almost entirely within the core Google Apps suite for education accounts. We're not exactly the product as much as we are a breeding ground for future loyal Google users.
    You can turn off Ads, but that kind of implies that google ARE mining the data as stated in their privacy policy. I very much doubt that turning off ads actually affects data mining, rather it just affects the presentation layer and stops it showing you the ads that would otherwise appear.

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    IIRC, under FERPA they are legally forbidden from data mining student information, so they must have the capability to disable that processing for edu accounts. I'd be extremely surprised if they decided to switch it back on for non-US customers just because they don't mention the relevant laws in their ToS or privacy policy.

    Of course, actually getting a straight answer out of Google on this, or anything else, is like trying to get blood from a stone.
    Last edited by AngryTechnician; 10th May 2013 at 01:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    IIRC, under FERPA they are legally forbidden from data mining student information, so they must have the capability to disable that processing for edu accounts. I'd be extremely surprised if they decided to switch it back on for non-US customers just because they don't mention the relevant laws in their ToS or privacy policy.
    I've read some detail about FERPA, "forbidden" from data mining didn't jump out at me. It seems more like an organisation acting for a UK entity operating under DP registration, they could claim to be processing data on the schools behalf. I'd be interested if you have more info. I'm not claiming my assumptions are anything other than assumption.
    Of course, actually getting a straight answer out of Google on this, or anything else, is like trying to get blood from a stone.
    Quite. And as the Wireless data slurp seems to show, even if you do get an answer, can you actually believe it! Not that the latter can come into play - I guess we have to make an assumption that they are acting in good faith.

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    I have a primary schools that have all the teachers signed up to gapps but the students simply use public facing areas and have not signed up. As an example, for homework the teacher wants some info on how trees grow, they create a form with the question and attach that to the website. The pupils visit the school website and complete the form and the answers all get populated in the teachers spreadsheet which is obviously in a secured area.

    Not how it was designed to work but does seem to do the job.

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    @edutech4schools. Thanks for the response. Do you operate that way because of the T&C's?

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