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Microsoft faces Austrian privacy complaints over education software

By AFP

June 4, 2024 10:40 PM


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A privacy campaign group in Austria filed two complaints Tuesday against Microsoft, saying its education software that is widely used in schools violates data protection rights for children.

Youths across Europe are exposed to the alleged violations, according to Vienna-based European Center for Digital Rights, also known as Noyb ("None of Your Business"), which said they were increasing in step with the greater use of online learning.

The group wants Austrian regulators to investigate and fine the US computing giant, saying schools have no way of overseeing and protecting students' data when using the Microsoft 365 Education software.

"Microsoft provides such vague information that even a qualified lawyer can't fully understand how the company processes personal data in Microsoft 365 Education," Maartje de Graaf, a data protection lawyer at Noyb, said in a statement.

"It is almost impossible for children or their parents to uncover the extent of Microsoft's data collection."

In addition, Noyb said that Microsoft 365 Education installed cookies that collect browser data and are used for advertising purposes, a practice likely affecting hundreds of thousands of students in Europe.

A Microsoft spokesperson said that its software complied with "applicable privacy laws" and that the company protects "thoroughly... the privacy of our young users".

Noyb, founded by the online privacy activist Max Schrems, has launched several legal cases against technology giants, often prompting action from regulatory authorities.

The group began working in 2018 with the advent of the EU's landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which aims to make it easier for people to control how companies use their personal information.


AFP


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