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
    Why am I still shocked?, 19 Aug 2010 @ 11:08am

    Idiots...

    For you who are stating "fear-mongering media" for this case - you are absolutely part of the very scum that sex offenders are. Sexual abuse includes the viewing of ones nakedness without their permission. If this happened, which, really, undoubtedly it did, then they are sex offenders. The children didn't give them permission. Nonetheless, how do you think this will affect the children psychologically you freaking idiots? EVEN IF they weren't ever naked in front of the camera!!!! Look at the intent. Is it truely the intent of the school officials to "protect their property" when they turn on the camera's before the property is even reported stolen? And if it was reported stolen, do you really need more than one quick photo op of the person? Intent here is obvious. The power they wanted and got,even if for a limited time, is the same power sex offenders have/need over their victims.

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