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BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home

SINSULL 18 Feb 10 - 02:30 PM
JohnInKansas 18 Feb 10 - 03:09 PM
SINSULL 18 Feb 10 - 03:34 PM
olddude 18 Feb 10 - 03:36 PM
Amergin 18 Feb 10 - 03:41 PM
romanyman 18 Feb 10 - 04:06 PM
PoppaGator 18 Feb 10 - 04:44 PM
SINSULL 18 Feb 10 - 04:49 PM
JohnInKansas 18 Feb 10 - 05:03 PM
Charley Noble 18 Feb 10 - 05:27 PM
Rapparee 18 Feb 10 - 05:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Feb 10 - 05:50 PM
SINSULL 18 Feb 10 - 06:22 PM
JohnInKansas 18 Feb 10 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,999 18 Feb 10 - 08:41 PM
Nigel Parsons 19 Feb 10 - 05:36 AM
SINSULL 19 Feb 10 - 08:02 AM
beardedbruce 19 Feb 10 - 08:36 AM
SINSULL 19 Feb 10 - 08:38 AM
SINSULL 19 Feb 10 - 09:15 AM
SINSULL 19 Feb 10 - 09:19 AM
beardedbruce 19 Feb 10 - 09:55 AM
Charley Noble 19 Feb 10 - 10:05 AM
Nigel Parsons 19 Feb 10 - 10:18 AM
GUEST, topsie 19 Feb 10 - 10:19 AM
KB in Iowa 19 Feb 10 - 10:24 AM
SINSULL 19 Feb 10 - 10:43 AM
CarolC 19 Feb 10 - 01:13 PM
Charley Noble 19 Feb 10 - 03:38 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 19 Feb 10 - 04:25 PM
SINSULL 19 Feb 10 - 04:27 PM
kendall 19 Feb 10 - 05:10 PM
CarolC 19 Feb 10 - 05:18 PM
Don Firth 19 Feb 10 - 05:44 PM
JohnInKansas 19 Feb 10 - 11:23 PM
Amergin 19 Feb 10 - 11:58 PM
CarolC 20 Feb 10 - 12:13 AM
CarolC 20 Feb 10 - 12:22 AM
JohnInKansas 20 Feb 10 - 12:57 AM
beardedbruce 20 Feb 10 - 09:00 AM
kendall 20 Feb 10 - 09:25 AM
VirginiaTam 20 Feb 10 - 11:18 AM
Charley Noble 20 Feb 10 - 12:21 PM
CarolC 20 Feb 10 - 12:35 PM
Charley Noble 20 Feb 10 - 12:50 PM
Charley Noble 20 Feb 10 - 01:05 PM
CarolC 20 Feb 10 - 01:24 PM
Charley Noble 20 Feb 10 - 01:46 PM
Don Firth 20 Feb 10 - 02:20 PM
CarolC 20 Feb 10 - 02:42 PM
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Subject: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 02:30 PM

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/School-Spies-on-Students-at-Home-with-Webcams-Suit-84712852.html

Incredible. Not only did they spy on children in their homes, the assistant principle confronted a boy with pictures of him doing "bad things" at home and punished him for it at school.

I see big bucks settlements in their futures.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 03:09 PM

Obviously some "bashful" school administrators were hoping for a bit of "kiddy porn" without the need to access known porn web sites?

(I don't see that the law suit goes to "motive," but the applicable laws don't require establishing one.)

There should be an immediate criminal investigation seizing at the least all computers used by any and all persons given the ability to secretly turn on the web cams, to determine whether such use has occured - or so I would think.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 03:34 PM

As we speak, John.
The assistant principal says she had the ability to turn on the web cam and did.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: olddude
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 03:36 PM

OMG, how awful, they better start a criminal investigation ... absolutely not legal on any grounds. The administration should immediately suspend the principal


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Amergin
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 03:41 PM

Wow...that is going a multi-million dollar settlement.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: romanyman
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 04:06 PM

and you are suprised ? im suprised more people dont realise most laptops with built in cameras have been used many times to spy on people without them knowing, as with most technology in daily use , it can well be hacked into quite easily.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 04:44 PM

Now that we know, couldn't students (and anyone supplied with a "free" laptop) just put tape over the webcam lens?


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 04:49 PM

That's exactly what the rest of the students did. There is a microphone too. Unfortunately, it appears that compromising pictures were taken of the students AND THEIR FAMILIES. I wonder if Child Pornography charges are in the wings.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 05:03 PM

A similar article at MSNBC reports essentially the same information as the first article linked above, but does estimate the number of laptops distributed as "2,300" rather than the "1,800" reported in the first article. It also reports that "several students" have indicated they already - since hearing about the invasion - have "taped over" the web cam lenses.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 05:27 PM

I do find this story hard to believe but if it proves to be true the school administrators should be put in the stocks on the village green.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Rapparee
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 05:32 PM

Disconnect the machine from the network, by disabling the wireless connections or unplugging it. Turn it off. Close the lid. Call the ACLU or other good civil rights group.

This is just a question of how many zeroes will be on the check(s).


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 05:50 PM

1984


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 06:22 PM

The joke is that some of the kids were reading "1984" in their classes. The kids got the irony. The teachers didn't. LOL


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 07:47 PM

Note that the lawsuit has already been filed. Theres a link at the page linked in the first post of the thread. You can download a .pdf of the filing.

Certainly the ACLU should be invited to file a "friend of" petition, and/or to "join the petition" if possible.

Local and state prosecuters, in addition, should be specifically invited (emphatically) to investigate whether the school "collected" scenes that might constitute child porn. It would seem unlikely that surreptitious and random "surveillance" of any significant fraction of that many affected kids would not have included qualifying scenes, or that those observing would reasonably have not anticipated such "content."

John


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: GUEST,999
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 08:41 PM

That sizzling sound y'all hear is someone's ass in the fryin' pan.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 05:36 AM

Have none of these 'officials' seen the movie 'American Pie'?
(admittedly that scene was deliberately broadcast!)


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 08:02 AM

The incredible stupidity and arrogance of the assistant principal amazes me. She was spying on a student who (I am inferrinf from the language) was masturbating in his room in his home. The n she called him in to her office to berate andpunish him for his bad behavior. How could she not see that this would land her in the frying pan?


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: beardedbruce
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 08:36 AM

First of all, I agree there SHOULD be a settlement in favor of the students.

BUT


"The lawsuit, filed Feb. 11, alleges that webcams in personal laptops -- that are issued to every high school student -- can be, and have been, remotely activated by school administrators without a person in the same room as the laptop being the wiser."


Note the laptops are "issued to every ... student". IF they are the property of the school system, there is no right of privacy- this has been settled in relation to employer owned computers already.

NOT saying the school was correct, just that the present law does NOT prohibit what they did.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 08:38 AM

The school is claiming that the camera and microphone set up is a security device allowing them to track stolen or missing laptops. It has to be activated. I wonder who activated it and why?
I still go for the child porn angle.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 09:15 AM

Actually it does, bruce. The right to privacy laws you are referring to involve content on the computer - emails are not private for instance. Just recently, the use of infrared cameras to detect marijuana growing in someone's home was declared illegal. Your home is sacrosanct.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 09:19 AM

Witold J Walczak, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press that like police, state school officials are barred from entering the home electronically or physically without a warrant.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: beardedbruce
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 09:55 AM

I hope you are correct, but fear that the case is not so clear. If one takes an employer-supplied laptop home, and then uses it to access material not approved of by the employer, they can fire you!


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 10:05 AM

I certainly believe the school district should be able to track their laptops outside of school grounds. But surveillance of any activity by the students off school grounds by remote access to the laptop webcam is a basic invasion of privacy. Heads will and should roll!

It seems likely to me that the school administrator had a personal grudge against this student, possibly provoked by the student. Otherwise I can't imagine how she would have the time to spy on his activities in particular. She would have had to be viewing hundreds of hours of webcam video every evening for all her students, which seems excessive for even the most diligent purveyor of potential teen porn.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 10:18 AM

Someone who would do this would have no qualms about putting security cameras in the school changing rooms, shower rooms & toilets. At leat those would be on school property!


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 10:19 AM

It may not have been porn - maybe he was taking drugs.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: KB in Iowa
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 10:24 AM

I hope you are correct, but fear that the case is not so clear. If one takes an employer-supplied laptop home, and then uses it to access material not approved of by the employer, they can fire you!

But there is no mention of the kids accessing material not approved by the school. Quite the opposite, the school accessed material not approved by the kids.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 10:43 AM

Whatever he was doing, the administrator's actions were illegal and in my opinion a bit bizarre. What the hell was she doing watching kids on the webcam? The school administration says the webcams were to be used ONLY for tracking missing or stolen laptops. And they admitted, they hadn't mentioned the feature to the students or parents.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: CarolC
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 01:13 PM

My experience has been that our public school systems are set up in a way that promotes this kind of arrogance on the part of teachers and administrators. Many of them really do see themselves as the ultimate authorities in the lives of the students and their families. So what this school has done comes as no surprise to me whatever.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 03:38 PM

The question of "What was the student doing at home?" isn't any kind of justification for what the school administrator was doing. She is not a member of the police force. If there were a question about a student using or selling drugs, it would be the job of the police to get a warrant before spying on the student via the laptop webcam; one hopes that they would need convincing evidence to be granted such a warrant. This school administrator is way out of line and the parents and students in her district have good reason to be concerned.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 04:25 PM

"The question of "What was the student doing at home?" isn't any kind of justification"

Indeed! I mean, what's next?
"What's the school administrator doing at home?"

(Oh... yeah, spying on naked children in their bedrooms!)


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 04:27 PM

and their naked parents possibly.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: kendall
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 05:10 PM

It's ironic that the word "Privacy" does not appear in the constitution. It's just something we take for granted.
According to the Supreme Court, giving someone the opportunity to break the law is not entrapment. To coerce them is.

The law is always two steps behind technology.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: CarolC
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 05:18 PM

I think "unreasonable search and seizure" sort of covers the whole privacy question, though.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 05:44 PM

Most webcams that I've seen are either built into the computer just above the screen (I'm assuming a laptop, here), or are a bit bigger than an eyeball and sit on or near the computer. Also, don't the eyeball-style cameras have to be plugged into the computer?

If built in, couldn't one just close the computer when not in use? Or put something over the camera? If it's one of the little eyeball gizmos, just turn it so it faces a nice landscape scene (or something else of one's choice). Or if it plugs in, just unplug it.

If it has a built-in mic, that might be another problem, but there ought to be a way to disable it temporarily.

Or the nuclear option:   when not in use, unplug the computer and pop the battery out.

Don Firth

P. S. The school administrator, however, should be hung by her thumbs.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 11:23 PM

Don F -

All good suggestions now that people know the webcam can be turned on by school personnel; but the school didn't tell anyone they might be able to do that.

And all your (and other) recommendations along this line are much akin to the well-known defense - "you computer can't get a virus if you never turn it on."

Accessing another person's computer without the knowledge and permission of the one in possession of the computer is ILLEGAL. (No matter how stupid the computer "owner" might happen to be.)

John


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Amergin
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 11:58 PM

If the administrator had been remotely searching the computer to see what websites and files the student placed on it, would have been one thing. these were school issued computers after all....but spying on them through the webcam, is completely different.

The computer could be turned off, but there are ways to turn it on remotely.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: CarolC
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:13 AM

People shouldn't have to turn their computers off in order to keep their teachers and school administrators from spying on them in their homes. What these people did is against the law. They should go to jail. That would be more appropriate than suing the school system for a lot of money. After all, that money is taxpayer money that should be used to educate children.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: CarolC
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:22 AM

...and the one who took the pictures should have to register with the national sex offender registry.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:57 AM

FBI said to be probing Pa. webcam case

Will explore whether school district broke federal wiretap laws

By Maryclaire Dale
Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
updated 3:44 p.m. CT, Fri., Feb. 19, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - A law-enforcement official with knowledge of the case says the FBI has opened a criminal investigation into a Pennsylvania school district accused of activating webcams inside students' homes without their knowledge.

The official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, says the FBI will explore whether Lower Merion School District officials broke any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws.

Lower Merion officials say they remotely activated webcams 42 times to find missing student laptops in the past 14 months, but never did so to spy on students, as a recent lawsuit claims.

The Montgomery County district attorney also is gathering information to determine whether to open an investigation.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: beardedbruce
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 09:00 AM

"Accessing another person's computer without the knowledge and permission of the one in possession of the computer is ILLEGAL. "


True.

BUT who was the OWNER of these machines? IF they were school issued ( and property), there was no illegal act in monitoring them. If you use a radio, there is NO right to privacy by law- anyone may listen in. It does become illegal to SELL information gathered from listening to that radio, though.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: kendall
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 09:25 AM

Carol, the 4th amendment covers people and things, not pictures.I think it should be broadened, but right now there is no law I can see has been broken.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons houses papers and effects against UNREASONABLE search and seizure shall not be violated, and no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation stating in particular the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

I had that drilled into my head back in Treasury school. Maybe the Supreme court will expand it; after all, they say corporations are people, what next? The 9th amendment might offer some hope.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 11:18 AM

hmmm.. unless the machine (which was school property) had been reported stolen or missing, there was no reason for the principal to track it by checking its whereabouts.

Another thing to consider though, is if the boy was using this school property for the purpose of self gratification and was actually posting his activity, what does that mean to the case?

If the school is monitoring websites accessed from remote machines then would that warrant activating the checking device as an abuse of school property?

Much more than meets the eye in this event. But at face value it seems unjustified and ludicrously intrusive.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:21 PM

Virginia Tam-

You raise an interesting point, one that focuses on what motive the administrator might have had. We've all been wondering, I'm sure.

However, even if the administrator had received a complaint about what the student was allegedly doing with the school laptop computer, she should have forwarded that complaint to the local legal authorities for follow-up, and the requisite warrant for monitoring the laptop in question.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: CarolC
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:35 PM

It wasn't the computers that were being monitored. It was the students who were being monitored, beardedbruce and Kendall. Monitoring the computer would have been if they had looked at the contents of the computer, or monitored how the computer was being used. That's not what they were doing. They were using the computer like a surveillance camera to monitor the students themselves.

Unreasonable search applies as much to that as it would if a government used a camera in your house to spy on you without your knowledge or permission.

By the way, he wasn't masturbating. He was eating candy. The assistant principal thought he was dealing drugs. If the government used a camera (and that's what we are talking about - a camera) in your house to spy on you without a warrant, and without your knowledge and permission, regardless of their motivations, it would be illegal. It's no different for these school administrators.


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:50 PM

But was the "candy" dark chocolate?

This story still amazes me. And CNN just did an update for the lunch crowd.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 01:05 PM

Here's a link to the actual complaint by the parents: click here for Complaint

Carol-

Could you provide a link to the story about "candy"? I can't seem to find any mention of that.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: CarolC
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 01:24 PM

I found it when I clicked on the kid's name in the article you posted in your opening post, Charley. Here it is...

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/tech/WebcamGate-Teen-I-Hope-Theyre-Not-Watching-Me-84826357.html


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 01:46 PM

Carol-

Thanks! Here's the relevant quotes:

In the photos, the teen was allegedly holding two pill-shaped objects, says Robbins' attorney Mark Haltzman. School officials believed they were drugs, while the family maintains they were simply Mike-N-Ike candy.

"They were trying to allege that…those were pills and somehow he was involved in selling drugs," Halzman said Friday.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 02:20 PM

"You[r] computer can't get a virus if you never turn it on."

I think my suggestions are a bit more sophisticated than that, John. Unless the student has a reason to be using the webcam, unplugging it, or, if it's built into the screen, covering it, should solve the "Peeping Tom or Thomasina" problem. A well-placed piece of duct-tape can be quite sophisticated if used intelligently.

Whatever one is doing on a computer that's networked one way or another can be monitored unless secured against this sort of thing. Working on a document or surfing the web can be remotely monitored, of course. Many a company employee goofing around on a company computer has learned this the hard way.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: School Laptop Spies on Children at Home
From: CarolC
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 02:42 PM

There's no way the students could have known that their cameras could be or might be operated remotely. Had the school informed them that this could and would be done, they could have covered the camera in some way. They were not informed, and they had no reason to anticipate the need to take such precautions.

And it wasn't what the students were doing with the computer that was being monitored. It was what the students were doing in their homes in the vicinity of the computers that was being monitored. It wasn't the computers that were being monitored. It was the students, via a camera, that were being monitored. There really is a very big difference between these two things. Monitoring the students without their knowledge via a camera placed in their homes, even if it's in a computer that they've brought into their homes themselves, is illegal. If it wasn't, the government would be able to put a camera in your house and use it without your knowledge and without a warrant, to spy on you. The government can't do that legally, and neither can a school system (which, in the case of a public school system, is the government).


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