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Author Topic: School district spying on kids at home  (Read 11175 times)

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Offline Rico

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School district spying on kids at home
« on: February 22, 2010, 10:06:48 AM »
This is a bit disturbing.  A school district is being sued and accused of spying on kids at home via webcams in school issued laptops.  Quite a tale.  Check it out:

PHILADELPHIA – A student who accuses his suburban Philadelphia school district in a lawsuit of spying on students via their school-issued webcams will ask district officials not to remove any potential evidence from student computers.

Lawyers for the Lower Merion School District are due in federal court on the issue Monday afternoon, on an emergency petition from student Blake Robbins of Penn Valley.

Lower Merion officials confirmed last week they had activated the webcams to find 42 missing or stolen laptops, without the knowledge or permission of students and their families. Both the FBI and local authorities are investigating whether the district broke any wiretap, computer-use or other laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief in support of the student Monday, arguing that the photo amounts to an illegal search.

"That school officials' warrantless, non-consensual use of a camera, embedded in students' laptops, inside the home is a search cannot be doubted," the ACLU wrote in a brief filed Monday morning.

Students at the district's two high schools have taken to taping over the webcam and microphone, even as school officials insist they have stopped the practice.

Robbins sued last week, alleging that Harriton High School officials took a photo of him inside his home. He learned of it when an assistant principal said she knew he was engaging in improper behavior at home, according to his potentially class-action lawsuit.

In the wake of the outcry over the allegations, school district officials have said they have abandoned the practice of remotely activating the webcams. Still, the Robbinses' lawyer does not want the district to remove any information or programs from the 2,300 laptops issued to students at its two high schools.

"Defendants intend to reclaim each laptop from the possession of members of the class for the purpose of wiping clean the hard drive or otherwise engaging in the spoliation of evidence," family lawyer Mark S. Haltzman wrote in the emergency petition.

Lawyer Henry E. Hockeimer Jr., who represents the district, urged families and community members not to jump to conclusions.

"These are important issues and we view them seriously," Hockeimer, a former federal prosecutor, said in a statement.

While courts have held that students can be searched at school given "reasonable suspicion" of a crime — a more relaxed standard than "probable cause," designed to ensure school safety — the lower standard does not apply in the home, the ACLU argued in its brief.



source:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100222/ap_on_re_us/us_laptops_spying_on_students

Offline sheldor

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2010, 10:18:22 AM »
Just read about this.  Pretty much an invasion of privacy.  That's why my wifi is encrypted and feel a bit nervous whenever I am on an unencrypted wifi.

Is there a way to keep files on the hard drive private when using unencrypted wifi?

Offline Rico

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2010, 11:15:21 AM »
Just read about this.  Pretty much an invasion of privacy.  That's why my wifi is encrypted and feel a bit nervous whenever I am on an unencrypted wifi.

Is there a way to keep files on the hard drive private when using unencrypted wifi?

I'm not sure encrypting the Wifi would solve this.  You could easily write a script to snap a pic on the students laptop at set intervals when it's running - say one every 30 minutes.  The files are saved to the local hard drive and when the laptops get back to school and hooked up to their network - boom - download the pics.  Again, I'm not quite sure how this took place but they mention wanting the computers back to wipe them.  That sounds like the machines stored the pics locally.  Pretty sneaky if it's true.

Offline Jen

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2010, 11:20:06 AM »
How irresponsible of the school. They couldn't see this lawsuit coming??? Morons.
BTW, I've heard of people locating stolen Macbooks by turning on their computers remotely through their Apple web accounts. The owner of one such Macbook was able take a photo of the jerk who stole their computer and the police used it to track the culprit down.  For every upside though, there seems to be a down side...which really stinks.
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Offline Meds

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2010, 11:24:22 AM »
This sounds soooo wrong. My first thought us what if you've got your laptop on and getting changed and they take pics. I mean how sick is that?

Offline Jen

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2010, 11:26:53 AM »
This sounds soooo wrong. My first thought us what if you've got your laptop on and getting changed and they take pics. I mean how sick is that?

Exactly.
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Offline X

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2010, 11:39:39 AM »
I can't think of any reason for a kid to be getting dressed in the front of a webcam. My own child knows not to change in front of open windows or the webcams in the house.

Hell, my computer illerate father in law knows that people can hack your webcam.

This generation grew up on the tech. They should know better. Mant of us have also heard about the remote activation of mac cams.

I'm hoping that the school informed the parents of monitoring before they issues them. I would hate to see it blow up in their faces.

The good part is that once the lawsuits are over, the school probably won't have the laptops and if they lose will be hard pressed to afford text books.

It's my hope that teachers concerned that the student might have been taking drugs won't blow up and force a great tool to be removed.

Offline Meds

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2010, 11:51:45 AM »
I got to be honest I didn't know that. I'm sure hundreds of people check mails while getting ready to go to work, laptop on but no web cam on, but now your saying some git can turn your cam on?? I didn't know that ( I don't have a web cam or laptop by the way but wife does).   

Offline Rico

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2010, 12:08:09 PM »
At least my webcam has a little blue light that comes on when it's active.  :)

If this is actually true about what the "school" did, they are in for a HUGE mountain of trouble.

Offline sheldor

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2010, 12:20:32 PM »
How irresponsible of the school. They couldn't see this lawsuit coming??? Morons.
BTW, I've heard of people locating stolen Macbooks by turning on their computers remotely through their Apple web accounts. The owner of one such Macbook was able take a photo of the jerk who stole their computer and the police used it to track the culprit down.  For every upside though, there seems to be a down side...which really stinks.

I remember that story.  Very funny and cool.  I wonder why this is ok but not the incident with the school?

Offline Jobydrone

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2010, 12:23:27 PM »
The school being sued was my high school, Harriton (class of 1987, god I'm old)  I find it amazing that they are issuing Macbooks to every student in the school.  Pretty unbelievable.  I guarantee you regardless of the outcome this school will not be hard pressed to afford anything, it is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods/school districts in the country.  They just recently (this year) blew up the old school buildings and opened up a brand new, $100 million dollar building.  
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Offline Darkmolerman

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2010, 02:10:25 PM »
*looks at my school provided netbook and puts duct tape on the webcam
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Offline Rico

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2010, 02:28:48 PM »
I have a feeling this is going to start a bit of a chain reaction in school districts with school issued laptops or netbooks.

Offline ChadH

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2010, 02:34:15 PM »
Aside from the local catholic school I'm not aware of any public high schools in my area that supply laptops to their students. Is this a common practice elsewhere?

Offline Jen

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Re: School district spying on kids at home
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2010, 02:43:08 PM »
I can't think of any reason for a kid to be getting dressed in the front of a webcam. My own child knows not to change in front of open windows or the webcams in the house.

Hell, my computer illerate father in law knows that people can hack your webcam.

This generation grew up on the tech. They should know better. Mant of us have also heard about the remote activation of mac cams.

I'm hoping that the school informed the parents of monitoring before they issues them. I would hate to see it blow up in their faces.

The good part is that once the lawsuits are over, the school probably won't have the laptops and if they lose will be hard pressed to afford text books.

It's my hope that teachers concerned that the student might have been taking drugs won't blow up and force a great tool to be removed.

From what I understand the web cam on this particular model can be turned on remotely and it doesn't have a light to warn you that it's on... So a kid with a laptop open (not knowing it was on) could be spied on. If you lived in an apartment, It would be the equivalent of having a hole in your bathroom mirror that a neighbor is using to watch you through.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2010, 02:47:23 PM by Jen »
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