School Accused Of Spying On Kids In Their Homes With Spyware That Secretly Activated Webcams

from the horrifying dept

A whole bunch of you are sending in this absolutely horrifying story of a school district outside of Philadelphia that apparently gave its students laptops that included hidden software that allowed district officials to secretly turn on the laptops' webcams and monitor student activities, no matter where they were. This all came to light when a student was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" with the evidence being a photo of the kid from his laptop webcam. The district is now being sued for this. It's rather stunning that anyone thought this was a good idea. Secretly spying on children in their homes when they have a very real expectation of privacy is downright horrifying. It's not hard to see how this could be abused in very dangerous ways.

Update: Yikes. This may be more common than I thought. Julian Sanchez points us to a recent PBS Frontline episode about technology in schools that shows a school official proudly showing off the ability to spy on kids this way (well, using remote desktop emulation, rather than turning on webcams, but many of the kids seem to use webcams a lot). That part of the video starts at 4:37 and even shows him taking a photo of a girl as she does her hair via the camera:
The school administrator seems to think it's funny to spy on kids this way. Wow.

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  1. identicon
    Mikael, 18 Feb 2010 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Not necessarily

    I do believe you are mistaken. When talking about the issue at hand, there would be no reason for someone to have a picture of a nude adolescent boy/girl. Infants are one thing, but why would you be taking nude pictures of your 5+ year old if not for inappropriate reasons? There was a case a little while back where teenage girls took pictures of themselves while in their underwear and sent them to some guys. They weren't even nude and they were charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. This case with the laptops is at a high school. Students in high school are generally from age 14-18. Any nude pictures of those underage students could be considered child pornography.

    Think about this too...most teens are full of raging hormones and probably masturbate. What if one was masturbating in front of the laptop while watching something on the internet or a dvd and a school official activated the webcam? There's a sex offender charge right there.

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