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Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

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  • Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/02/17...d-student.html
    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.
    This is really quite frightening if it is true. Schools should absolutely not have the right to discipline students for activities that take place in their own homes or at any venue not directly associated with the school.

  • #2
    Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

    Maybe someone was hoping to get shots of students in less formal attire?
    |TG-6th|Snooggums

    Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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    • #3
      Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

      sounds like those houses had damn good wifi connections. I wonder what kind of laptops were issued, I hear the Sony Vaio Laptops offer some pretty awesome picture/video capability. I am curious to know how the education board enabled this, I mean, where the webcam was positioned and how they made the program not show up........
      Randy = Ace ! - Warlab
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      • #4
        Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

        According to Engadget:

        Originally posted by Engadget
        Then again, some purported Lower Merion students just emailed Gizmodo and claimed that their MacBooks' green webcam lights went on at random times, but they were told by IT support that it was just a technical glitch.
        Who knows how accurate that is though.

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        • #5
          Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

          I'd bring up the school on child porn or similar charges. That'd teach em good.

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          • #6
            Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

            Are the laptops school or private property?

            If they are the property of the family then the school should suffer horribly.

            If they are school property and the kids misused the laptops (school property) then the kid should get in trouble.
            BUT!!!

            If the computer was just "ON" and it caught the student doing something the school didn't like that didn't actually involve the use of the computer then the school should suffer horribly.
            Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
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            • #7
              Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

              Last weeks episode of Frontline called Digital Nation showed a South Bronx public school principal actively spying on kids through webcams form laptops the school had given them. It looked weird, but I thought that was the norm now.

              http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...hool.html?play

              It starts at 4:34

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              • #8
                Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                I think you can justify doing this in some situations. You could say a student working on a school owned laptop is just like a student sitting in the classroom after hours.

                The particulars have to be worked out. But big picture I really don't see a problem with this.
                Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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                • #9
                  Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                  Did they tell the students that the laptops had this feature? Not doing so would be a problem.
                  |TG-6th|Snooggums

                  Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                    Originally posted by snooggums View Post
                    Did they tell the students that the laptops had this feature? Not doing so would be a problem.
                    you guys really ought to scroll to the bottom of the article and read the lawsuit (it's in PDF format) thats linked there. To spare you the blather of having to read all the legalese, the parts you'll be interested in (and will answer most of the questions asked here) are pages 5-8.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                      Originally posted by Ferris Bueller View Post
                      you guys really ought to scroll to the bottom of the article and read the lawsuit (it's in PDF format) thats linked there. To spare you the blather of having to read all the legalese, the parts you'll be interested in (and will answer most of the questions asked here) are pages 5-8.
                      The internet needs both sarcasm and rhetorical question tags, and some way for them to work together :)
                      |TG-6th|Snooggums

                      Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                        Originally posted by Ferris Bueller View Post
                        This is really quite frightening if it is true.
                        Seems as though it is true, and once again bloggers have brought a relevant story to national attention. Here's the issue that I have with this mess, as stated in this BBC article the school superintendent says:
                        "The security feature's capabilities were limited to taking a still image of the operator and the operator's screen," he wrote.

                        "This feature was only used for the narrow purpose of locating a lost, stolen or missing laptop. The District never activated the security feature for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever."
                        Now, if thats the case then why did they take a still photo off the plantiff's son as stated here:

                        A couple from Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit against a school district which gave laptops to its high school pupils.

                        They say their son was told off by teachers for "engaging in improper behaviour in his home" and that the evidence was an image from his webcam.
                        If this laptop was not reported as stolen or missing, then the school superintendent is a liar and we have a much bigger problem. Because this means that the teachers or whoever employed at the school have abused the security feature and have engaged in spying on the students. Heads should roll over this and the school superintendent should be fired immediately for starters, also those who took the photo and or engaged in spying should be fired as well.
                        |TG-X| mp40x



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                        • #13
                          Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                          I was talking to a kid I know today who went to that school. The laptop was apparently reported missing by the kid, and as a result the automatic screen capture and webcam was activated. He was then caught rolling a joint in front of the open laptop, and as a result got a suspension from the school when the pictures were automatically sent to the administration by the "PC Lojack" software. You also need to sign a document before you take the laptops specifying that the school has a right to take pictures if the laptop is reported stolen.

                          This seems to be just another example of the media blowing things out of proportion without giving us all of the facts. If this kid was stupid enough to report his laptop as stolen when he did in fact have it, then roll a joint in front of the camera then he deserves what he got.

                          If it were a case of an innocent student being spied on by the school then I'd obviously be outraged, but this doesn't seem to be the case.

                          I didn't join a squad once and this guy named Nardini took me into the back room and beat me with a sock of oranges.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                            Originally posted by thegreatnardini View Post
                            I was talking to a kid I know today who went to that school. The laptop was apparently reported missing by the kid, and as a result the automatic screen capture and webcam was activated. He was then caught rolling a joint in front of the open laptop, and as a result got a suspension from the school when the pictures were automatically sent to the administration by the "PC Lojack" software. You also need to sign a document before you take the laptops specifying that the school has a right to take pictures if the laptop is reported stolen.

                            This seems to be just another example of the media blowing things out of proportion without giving us all of the facts. If this kid was stupid enough to report his laptop as stolen when he did in fact have it, then roll a joint in front of the camera then he deserves what he got.

                            If it were a case of an innocent student being spied on by the school then I'd obviously be outraged, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
                            As Ferris noted there is a PDF of the court documents, number 22 on page alleges that there was no mention of this feature in the paperwork given to parents (including a form they would sign) or posted and that the first time they found out about it was when the school told them about what the images had captured.
                            |TG-6th|Snooggums

                            Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Privacy? What privacy? High school uses student laptops to spy on them at home!

                              Originally posted by thegreatnardini View Post
                              I was talking to a kid I know today who went to that school. The laptop was apparently reported missing by the kid, and as a result the automatic screen capture and webcam was activated. He was then caught rolling a joint in front of the open laptop, and as a result got a suspension from the school when the pictures were automatically sent to the administration by the "PC Lojack" software. You also need to sign a document before you take the laptops specifying that the school has a right to take pictures if the laptop is reported stolen.
                              Well, that pretty much changes everything if thats true. I read several articles about the story, with the BBC article explaining it the best in my opinion based on what facts I thought they represented. If it turns out to be true then the kid should be punished by the school for lying and falsely reporting the laptop missing, not for rolling the joint though, as that happened in the privacy of his own home and not on school grounds. It's all speculation at this point as we clearly don't have all the facts I guess.
                              |TG-X| mp40x



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