Privacy and Security FAQs

Find answers to common questions about how Google protects your privacy and keeps your data safe.

Google Workspace for Education

Explore commonly asked questions about privacy and security

What are Google Workspace for Education core services?

The Google Workspace for Education core services are the heart of Google’s educational offering to schools. The Google Workspace for Education core services are listed in the Services Summary and include Gmail, Calendar, Classroom, Contacts, Drive, Docs, Forms, Groups, Sheets, Sites, Slides, Meet/Chat, Vault, and Chrome Sync. These services are provided to a school under its Google Workspace for Education agreement and, as applicable, Data Processing Amendment.

Google Workspace core services support compliance with COPPA and FERPA. Google Workspace core services contain no advertising and do not use information in those services for advertising purposes.

More than 140 million students, teachers and administrators in almost every country in the world rely on Google Workspace to learn and work together. We are committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our users, including students.

Please note that there are additional services outside of the Google Workspace core services that Google Workspace users can access. These services are not governed by the Student Privacy Pledge or the Google Workspace agreement, so we may use information in these services in ways we would not for Google Workspace core services. For example, additional services may serve ads, and Google may use information in these additional services to improve Google services. For Google Workspace users in primary/secondary (K-12) schools, Google does not use any user personal information (or any information associated with a Google Account) to target ads. Please review the Google Workspace for Education Privacy Notice, Google Cloud Privacy Notice, Google Terms of Service and Google Privacy Policy. Learn more about the differences between core services and additional services below.

Does Google own school or student data?

No. Google doesn’t assume ownership of any customer data in Google Workspace for Education core services, and it says so in our contracts (under “Intellectual Property”).

We provide powerful, easy-to-use management tools and dashboards to help administrators keep track of their organization's services, usage and data. We only keep your personal information as long as you ask us to keep it. If an education department, school or university decides to stop using Google, we make it easy for them to take their data with them.

Does Google sell school or student data to third parties?

No. We don’t sell your Google Workspace data to third parties, and we do not share personal information placed in our systems with third parties, except in the few exceptional circumstances described in the Google Workspace for Education agreement , such as when you ask us to share it or when we are required to do so by law.

Google also does not sell personal information collected in Additional Services. For more information see the Privacy Policy.

Are there ads in Google Workspace?

No. There are no ads in the suite of Google Workspace core services. Outside of the Google Workspace core services, additional Google services may show ads, as described in the Google Workspace for Education Privacy Notice. For Google Workspace users in Primary/Secondary (K-12) schools, Google does not use any user personal information (or any information associated with a Google Account) to target ads.

How does Google keep data secure?

We are fully committed to the security and privacy of your data and protecting you and your school from attempts to compromise it. Our systems are among the industry’s most secure and we vigorously resist any unlawful attempt to access our customers’ data.

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. Because Google controls the entire hardware stack, we are able to quickly respond to any threats or weaknesses that may emerge.

Google encrypts Gmail (including attachments) and Drive data while on the move. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Google's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centers.

How does Google ensure its tools are reliable?

Our proven infrastructure handles more than 100 billion search queries each month and scales services such as Gmail to hundreds of millions of users with 99.9% availability and no scheduled downtime. Google invests heavily in securing its infrastructure with many hundreds of engineers dedicated to security and privacy distributed across all of Google, including many who are recognized industry authorities.

Which third parties have reviewed Google’s security practices?

We connect with independent auditors to review our data protection practices. An independent 3rd party auditor, has verified that our practices and contractual commitments for Google Workspace for Education comply with ISO/IEC 27018 and ISO/IEC 27001, and are audited against SSAE 18 / ISAE 3402 Type II. For our full compliance offerings, see our Compliance Resource Center.

How do I know that other customers sharing the same servers can't access my data?

Your data is logically protected as if it were on its own server. Unauthorized parties cannot access your data. Other customers cannot access your data, and you can’t access theirs. In fact, all user accounts are protected by this secure architecture that ensures that one user cannot see another user's data. This is similar to how customer data is segmented in other shared infrastructures, such as online banking applications.

How do you know we’re keeping our word?

We make contractual commitments in our Google Workspace for Education agreement and Data Processing Amendment and commit to comply with privacy and security standards, including as captured in our Google Cloud Privacy Notice. And whether it’s real time dashboards to verify system performance, our ongoing auditing of our processes or sharing the location of our data centers, we’re committed to providing all our users utmost transparency. It’s your data, and we want you to know what happens with it so that you can always make informed choices.

Has Google signed the Student Privacy Pledge?

Yes. Google has signed the Student Privacy Pledge with respect to Google Workspace for Education Core Services. This pledge, introduced by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), is intended to reflect our commitment to safeguard student personal information in our services designed for use in schools.

Does Google encrypt my data?

Yes, encryption is an important piece of the Google Workspace for Education security strategy, helping to protect your emails, chats, video meetings, files, and other data. For more information on encryption, see our Encryption Whitepaper.

How do Google services collect and use information with Google Workspace for Education accounts?

The Google Workspace for Education Privacy Notice can help schools, students, and parents understand what information Google services collect when used with Google Workspace for Education accounts, and what they do with that information.

What kind of scanning or indexing of user data is done on Google Workspace for Education accounts?

Google Workspace services don't collect or use information in those services for advertising purposes or to create ads profiles.

Gmail for consumers and Google Workspace users runs on the same infrastructure, which helps us deliver high performance, reliability, and security to all of our users. However, Google Workspace is a separate offering that provides additional security, administrative and archiving controls for education, work and government customers.

Like many email providers, we do scanning in Gmail to keep our customers secure and to improve their product experience. This includes virus and spam protection, spell check, relevant search results and features like Priority Inbox and auto-detection of calendar events. Scanning to provide product features is done on all incoming emails and is 100% automated. We do NOT scan Google Workspace emails for advertising purposes.

Can Google Workspace for Education be used in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?

Yes. Google Workspace core services support compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and our commitment to do so is included in our agreements. For additional resources, please check our FERPA compliance center. To check whether your institution qualifies for Google Workspace for Education sign up for Google Workspace EDU, please refer to Qualifications for Google Workspace for Education.

What options does Google Workspace for Education offer for complying with European privacy law (GDPR)?

Schools can opt into our data processing amendment and model contract clauses. Model contract clauses were created specifically by the European Commission to permit the transfer of personal data from Europe.

If you have not already done so, we’d like to remind our Google Workspace customers to consider opting-in to the data-processing amendment and model contract clauses.

Can Google Workspace for Education be used in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA)?

Yes. Schools are required to provide consent for their students use of Core Services, consistent with COPPA, and may also want to get parent or guardian consent for those services. Schools are also required to obtain parental consent for students' use of Additional Services with their GSuite for Education account.


Discover answers to commonly asked Chromebook security questions

Who uses Chromebooks?

Millions of students around the world use Chromebooks for learning. Cutting-edge privacy and security features have helped to make Chromebooks popular devices in US K-12 schools. With Chromebook Education Upgrade, school IT administrators can manage settings to give students as much or as little access as the school desires.

Although Chromebooks are not considered a Google Workspace for Education core service, we ensure they comply with the Student Privacy Pledge so that schools can use these in compliance with COPPA and FERPA.

Are Chromebooks secure for my students?

Yes. Chromebooks are designed with multiple layers of security to keep them safe from viruses and malware without any additional security software. A full 10% of boot time is dedicated to re-verifying that the device has not been tampered with, so every time you power on a Chromebook, your security is checked. And because they can be managed centrally, Chromebooks make it easy for school IT administrators to configure policies and settings, like enabling safe browsing or blocking malicious sites.

Are Chromebooks compatible with online testing?

Chromebooks are a secure platform for administering student assessments. With Chromebooks, you can disable students’ access to browse the web during an exam in addition to disabling external storage, screenshots, and the ability to print. Both PARCC (see TestNav) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortia have verified that Chromebooks meet hardware and operating system requirements for online students.

How is data used and protected for students on Chromebooks?

Chrome sync enables Google Account holders to log-in to any Chromebook or Chrome browser and find all their apps, extensions, bookmarks and frequently visited web pages. For students, this means that they can get to work right away. That's one of the reasons Chromebooks have become so popular in classrooms, especially for schools that can't afford a device for every child. With Chromebooks and Chrome sync, students can have a personalized experience on any device they share with their classmates, while keeping their data secure.

Personally-identifiable Chrome sync data in Google Workspace EDU accounts is only used to power features in Chrome for that person, for example allowing students to access their own browsing data and settings, securely, across devices. In addition, our systems compile data aggregated from millions of users of Chrome Sync and, after completely removing information about individual users, we use this data to holistically improve the services we provide. For example if data shows that millions of people are visiting a webpage that is broken, that site would be moved lower in the search results. This is not connected to any specific person nor is it used to analyze student behaviors. If they choose to, administrators can disable Chrome sync and users can choose what information to sync. Google Workspace users’ Chrome sync data is not used to target ads to individual students through the Google Workspace for Education core services.

More information

Explore more information on privacy and security

How can families keep their kids safe online?

Along with this page, which provides detail on the services we offer to schools, you can find guidance for keeping your kids safe online outside of school. We worked with many partners to create the Google Family Safety Center.

Additional services

Learn more about additional services and privacy and security

Schools can turn consumer services on or off for their end users. We are committed to ensuring that K-12 student personal information is not used to target ads in these services, and in some cases we show no ads at all.

Most Additional Services are governed by the Google Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, and some services may also have service-specific terms.

We allow schools to decide whether to turn these services on or off for certain groups of teachers and students. Every organization and community is different and so we give schools the power to configure tools as they wish to meet the unique needs of students and educators.

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Privacy & Security

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