[NetBehaviour] School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Fri Feb 19 11:02:56 CET 2010

School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home.

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.

Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (PDF)

Originally found at Slashdot.org then Boing Boing...

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