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Chromebooks could be banned in schools in entire country due to data policies

Google will need to make some significant changes if it wants to continue to own the education market with Chromebooks.
By
July 18, 2022
Acer Chromebook Spin 714 top surface
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • In one Denmark school district, Chromebooks are banned along with Google Workspace.
  • The ban is due to Google’s data policies, which allegedly violate the GDPR.
  • Security officials are confident this ban would spread across the entire country.

Chromebooks dominate the education market all around the world. The machines are simple, inexpensive, and more secure than most Windows-based systems, making them ideal for schools.

However, Google could be facing some serious trouble in Denmark as far as Chromebooks go. According to TechCrunch, Chromebooks are banned in at least one Danish school district, and the security researchers responsible for the ban are confident it will spread across the entire country.

The school district of Helsingør is at the center of this ban. Denmark’s data protection agency, Datatilsynet, found that Google Workspace systems — namely Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Drive — allow sensitive data to transfer outside of the European Union for the purposes of support. If true, this would violate the GDPR’s data privacy rules.

See also: Google still doesn’t understand what privacy means

Since Google Workspace is an integral aspect of the machines, Chromebooks are essentially banned in Helsingør schools. The Helsingør district has until August 3 to delete all the affected data, but the ban is effective immediately

Chromebooks banned in Denmark: Google response

A Google spokesperson told TechCrunch:

We know that students and schools expect the technology they use to be legally compliant, responsible, and safe. That’s why for years, Google has invested in privacy best practices and diligent risk assessments, and made our documentation widely available so anyone can see how we help organisations to comply with the GDPR.
Schools own their own data. We only process their data in accordance with our contracts with them. In Workspace for Education, students’ data is never used for advertising or other commercial purposes. Independent organisations have audited our services, and we keep our practices under constant review to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and compliance.

Despite this statement, Google has already made it clear that it is working on giving EU users more control over their data. In May, the company announced new Workspace tools will roll out starting at the end of this year and into 2023. It looks like Google will need to move a lot faster if it wants to keep Chromebooks in Danish schools.