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School spying on Children

Midnight_Caller
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Registered: 15-04-2007

School spying on Children

Hi All
Just seen this:
[quote="School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home"]
According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.
If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don't know about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I'm getting dressed, having private discussions with my family, and so on. The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students' clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying.

This is really bad.  Shocked  Angry
6 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,239
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: School spying on Children

'strewth!!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: School spying on Children

I can see the protesters gathering already.  This is scary Wink
Community Veteran
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Registered: 11-08-2007

Re: School spying on Children

'god' is watching you! Cheesy Cheesy Shocked Shocked Angry
Midnight_Caller
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Registered: 15-04-2007

Re: School spying on Children

I don't know about "God" but the head teacher is watching!    
From the Comments
[quote="headfoo"]
[Snip]
To the crowd who are of the "I don't have anything to hide so I'm not concerned about privacy protection" - you know that laptop sitting on the desk in your 14yo daughter's bedroom? Umm, yeah, the webcam is controlled by a government funded organization that might be recording her next time she's getting undressed.
Not concerned about privacy? Nothing to hide?

Watt I agree with 100%
[quote="Pennsylvania School Accused of Cyberspying"]
(CBS)  Blake Robbins never imagined the computer he got from school could peer into his personal life.
"I thought there was no way they could do this in my home," Blake said.
His parents, Holly and Michael Robbins, filed a federal lawsuit against his suburban Philadelphia school district, claiming administrators spied on him using a remote-controlled webcam on his school-issued laptop, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.
[Snip]
School officials say they've now disabled the feature. But with reports of the FBI opening an investigation into possible wiretap violations, it is now the school district who has to worry about scrutiny.

[quote="FBI Launches Criminal Investigation into Webcam Spying"]
The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the case of Lower Merion school officials spying its on students at home via notebook webcams, an FBI source said.
The source says the investigation will probe whether the school officials broke federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws.
A class action lawsuit filed on Feb. 11 claims a teen was confronted with photographic evidence of him engaging in "improper behavior" at home by a school official.
[Snip]
David_W
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Registered: 19-07-2007

Re: School spying on Children

Playing devils advocate here.  The software on the laptop is designed to take a screenshot of the desktop as well as from the webcam.  We have no idea what the behaviour was but if I were a school giving out laptops I would ensure there was software on it designed to make sure the laptop wasn't being used to access certain websites.  We are after all talking about a legal system where you can sue a company for giving you hot coffee, imagine how much a parent would sue a school for if they gave their children the means to access strictly over 18 websites.
Yes, the web cam may be a bit OTT, but it is also the only way to get proof of who was at the computer when said websites were accessed.  It does open the possibility that yes, the administrators at the school could be charged with sexual offences against children, especially if said children were visiting certain websites in a state of undress when the web cam took the image.
I think the concept itself was sound, in a litigation happy state you want to protect yourself from being sued as much as possible, it was the actual realisation that was faulty, in not letting the parents/children know implicitly that the laptops had the ability to "phone home" if unacceptable behaviour was observed, the school left itself open.
In the UK though this wouldn't happen, even with Browns "give all the poor a laptop to ebay" scheme, the laptops there will come from places like PC World where the government sends out a ticket to be used to purchase a laptop rather than schools themselves giving them out (at least that's my understanding of how it will work).
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Re: School spying on Children

Quote from: dgwebb
the laptops there will come from places like PC World

In that case the recipients might want to check there is no-one else's personal data on the hard drive Roll eyes
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