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

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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.

 

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

 

I must say, this wasn't much of a surprise but really, they openly admitted to doing it? I wonder how long before they try to use video evidence where the student is dressing and the school is shut down for child pornography possession.


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Is that somewhere in the agreement paper students sign when buying the laptop? That's just ridiculous, a major invasion of privacy. Like it says, I leave my laptop open on so many occasions.


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Lets hope none of them was having webcam sex.

I'd sue the bleep out of their bleeps, how can anyone in their right mind do this?


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Lets hope none of them was having webcam sex.

I'd sue the bleep out of their bleeps, how can anyone in their right mind do this?

tbh thats the first thing that came to into my mind.

If a single pupil is caught naked the school would be in so much trouble for photographs/videos of underaged kids.

 

This school is going to get sued until they go under.


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Ahh American, the land of the free, where your privacy is worth [cabbage].


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When we got our student laptops at school we did a survey about them for sociology, and the question if they were using the webcams to spy on us was on it. About 15% said yes. I really doubt many districts do that.

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Unbelieveable!

 

 

 

I really hope this will be stopped sometimes soon!

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That's absolutely ridiculous. That's why I don't have a webcam :P

 

Although if it was part of the laptop I suppose I'd just cover it up with something.


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I'm glad my school's too poor to do this type of [cabbage].


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If I had a school laptop, I would do a few spyware checks first- Because spyware is exactly what that is. After making a big deal of it, I'd install Ubuntu and forget about the whole thing and make use of the laptop. :-)


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Normally I'm for this sort of thing, when the government does it, if they do it, but the school had no reason to do this. What students do outside of school is not for the school to know. The money to do this could have gone to something much more worthy, and I hope this suit will serve as a message to any other schools that want to try this.


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So what was the inappropriate behaviour anyway?


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I think the inappropriate behaviour never was specified. But I mean, REALLY? They disclipine someone for inappropriate behavour in their own room?

Where is the common sense in that? "Yeah, you were doing something inappropriate in your room where nobody could see it except us trough the webcam, so please don't do that again." Seriously?...


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Hmm... in the school I'm going to later this year they give netbooks to new students. I don't know if they have webcams or not... not that it matters anyway because I'm going to use Arch Linux without any useless drivers.

 

This thing sounds bad. I really hope something is done to end this. :/

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At school, it's probably ok, because it's the school's business. But how can the school punish what students do outside school outside of school hours? It's outside their jurisdiction. Although many schools try to treat students as their own property, they are not. I sincerely hope there is a law to establish this.


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Hmm... in the school I'm going to later this year they give netbooks to new students. I don't know if they have webcams or not... not that it matters anyway because I'm going to use Arch Linux without any useless drivers.

 

This thing sounds bad. I really hope something is done to end this. :/

Hah, imagine if that happened in Finland. It would be a huge public scandal, I doubt you have anything to worry about.


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Is that somewhere in the agreement paper students sign when buying the laptop? That's just ridiculous, a major invasion of privacy. Like it says, I leave my laptop open on so many occasions.

 

 

Pretty sure you can't sign a contract that removes your rights.


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This is disgusting and violates more ethical obligations than I can think of. It's so bad, it's unAmerican. Way to go Philly. You just embarrassed the whole friggin country. I hope your happy. Sick perverts.


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Really? I hate it when schools delve into student's personal life, especially outside of school. I'm glad that my school is poor enough to barely afford computer for classes so I never will have to deal with that kind of issue.


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Is that somewhere in the agreement paper students sign when buying the laptop? That's just ridiculous, a major invasion of privacy. Like it says, I leave my laptop open on so many occasions.

 

 

Pretty sure you can't sign a contract that removes your rights.

Yeah you don't have to sign it, you lose basically all rights when dealing with school property.

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Is that somewhere in the agreement paper students sign when buying the laptop? That's just ridiculous, a major invasion of privacy. Like it says, I leave my laptop open on so many occasions.

 

 

Pretty sure you can't sign a contract that removes your rights.

Yeah you don't have to sign it, you lose basically all rights when dealing with school property.

 

No.


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Uhh, yes. Your constitutional rights do not hold up with schools. You don't have freedom of speech, the right to bare arms, and you also don't have the right to deny searches.

 

We've discussed this in my Law Studies classroom. It's a common question that most students ask. It's stupid, but it is true. Apparently school rules override the country's rules. And now they are taking away your rights when you handle their school property, even off of school grounds.

 

Now I can't decide who's worse. School or government?

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I was from this school, I'd stage a huge fake murder scene in front of the webcam. They'd deserve it.

 

Seriously, that's disgusting. I dispise schools that think they have control over a students personal life. Ugh.

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Guess they can't "Cyb0r" on it now. Talk about sick though, Pretty sure that's breaking the law on charges of stalking, inhumane breech of privacy and probably crosses over on something to do with Bill of thingy you American's have. (cbf Googling)


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What probably happened is that they were only using the surveillance cameras during school hours and it worked out so great that some genius decided to try and get them outside of school.

 

Whether or not they were doing it to catch kids doing stupid things, perving on them, or just wanted to see how their students acted outside of school it was a stupid thing to do.


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