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Thread: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

  1. #1
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    This is downright creepy.

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/02/17...d-student.html

    By Cory Doctorow
    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.

    Schools are in an absolute panic about kids divulging too much online, worried about pedos and marketers and embarrassing photos that will haunt you when you run for office or apply for a job in 10 years. They tell kids to treat their personal details as though they were precious.

    But when schools take that personal information, indiscriminately invading privacy (and, of course, punishing students who use proxies and other privacy tools to avoid official surveillance), they send a much more powerful message: your privacy is worthless and you shouldn't try to protect it.

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  3. #2
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Kinda makes me want to just put black electrical tape over the camera on my MacBook.
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Everyone associated should be fired. Then hired back so they can be fired again.
    Absolutely disgraceful. The fact that they thought they could punish a kid and use this as evidence is even worse.
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    Member durl's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    I'm waiting to see the pictures of the tent city of lawyers that will inevitably pop up on the lawns of the families impacted.

  6. #5
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Quote Originally Posted by durl View Post
    I'm waiting to see the pictures of the tent city of lawyers that will inevitably pop up on the lawns of the families impacted.
    Not intending to start a fire, frankly the district should be sued six ways to Saturday.
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    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz View Post
    Not intending to start a fire, frankly the district should be sued six ways to Saturday.
    Yep.

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  8. #7
    We Need Our Myths reds1869's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker View Post
    Yep.
    +1.

  9. #8
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    This is downright creepy.

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/02/17...d-student.html

    By Cory Doctorow
    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.

    Schools are in an absolute panic about kids divulging too much online, worried about pedos and marketers and embarrassing photos that will haunt you when you run for office or apply for a job in 10 years. They tell kids to treat their personal details as though they were precious.

    But when schools take that personal information, indiscriminately invading privacy (and, of course, punishing students who use proxies and other privacy tools to avoid official surveillance), they send a much more powerful message: your privacy is worthless and you shouldn't try to protect it.
    I always have a piece of tape on the camera. I have no reason for anyone in the world to get a glimpse of me. I also don't trust anyone as far as one's ability to hack into a computer and activate the camera.

  10. #9
    Member klw's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    The district is being sued. The article above references that in the first line.
    Here is another piece on this. Suit was filed by parents of the boy who was disciplined for the out of school behavior.
    http://www.computerworld.com/s/artic...?taxonomyId=84

  11. #10
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    They should burn the school down and pour salt on the ground where it stands and send all those involved to Alaska and make them walk home in a bad pair of shoes.

  12. #11
    Tired of talk. Win! Joseph's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    They should burn the school down and pour salt on the ground where it stands and send all those involved to Alaska and make them walk home in a bad pair of shoes.
    Frankly I'm outraged at this outrageous suggestion.

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  13. #12
    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    It'll be interesting to see who pops in here and defends the schools actions simply to take the other side and be difficult.

    I'd have to say whoever cooked up that plan is just flat out dumb. Mercy.
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  14. #13
    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Quote Originally Posted by Ltlabner View Post
    It'll be interesting to see who pops in here and defends the schools actions simply to take the other side and be difficult.

    I'd have to say whoever cooked up that plan is just flat out dumb. Mercy.
    Not sure anyone in their right mind would do that.

  15. #14
    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    Wow. Just. Wow.
    The height and breadth of stupidity involved in this is practically unimaginable. But the most amazing thing about this is that the idea was probably sent up the line and approved by multiple people.
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  16. #15
    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: School used student laptop webcams to spy on them

    I'd like to hear the other side of the story, if there is one. If this is the truth, then they are in a bit of trouble.


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