Washington, DC (September 1, 2021) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has removed Google Chromebook from its 2021 Dirty Dozen List, an annual list of mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation, because Google has instituted several changes suggested by NCOSE that go into effect today.
In June, Google announced that it would implement several major changes to Chromebooks and its suite of education products to make them safer for millions of K-12 students worldwide.
“Given the safety measures that have been implemented as of today, we have removed Google Chromebook from our 2021 Dirty Dozen List. The improvements were long sought-after by NCOSE and its allies and ultimately will limit the amount of exposure to harmful content and potential predators through school-issued Chromebooks,” said Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
Starting today, Chromebooks (and Chrome OS) for primary and secondary education (including homeschooling families) will have safety settings set to default, meaning they can only be changed with administrative privileges: Safe Search and SafeSites (blocking explicit URLs) will be turned on, and Enable Guest Browsing and Incognito Mode will be turned off. What’s more, all those in K-12 that currently have a school-issued Chromebook will be updated with these significant improvements.
Google is also launching a new age-based access setting, further enhancing safety and making it easier for school administrators to tailor them for users of services like YouTube, Photos, and Map. As of today, admins for K-12 must indicate which users are 17 and under which will automatically block certain features on Google products for minors. For example, they won’t be able to post videos, comment, or live stream using their school Google account.
“Google’s move to default devices and products to safety for kids is now an industry standard, and we urge other tech companies to follow suit,” said Nealon.
Google has been on NCOSE’S annual Dirty Dozen List since the campaign’s inception in 2013, but for 2021, Chromebooks specifically were featured as a Dirty Dozen List target due to the incredible impact they could have had in minimizing children’s risk during the pandemic and the fact that they were planning on releasing 40 new Chromebook models for education alone in 2021 (with no public plans to improve safety). NCOSE also met with Google several times to continue to share concerns and recommendations; to bring survivor testimonies, public petitions, and parental pleas to Google.