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.

Filed Under: privacy, schools, spying, webcams


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  1. identicon
    Ranba Ral, 23 Feb 2010 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Other Possibilities

    Of course, you assume that the download is being initiated by the person using the machine. With things like torrent programs and various auto-download scripts, plugins, and programs, they could be running in the background for hours before the download even starts.

    Then you run into the problem of determining what is actually IP infringement with an automated capture program. Most of my downloads are my own files, or files made by friends. There's also plenty of public domain stuff out there that a lot of these file-share programs can and do (legally) access...I for one am not willing to put up with having my picture taken every time I download something just because net piracy is huge and will never truly be stopped.

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