School Surveillance Via Student Laptop Webcams
School-issued laptops are being used to spy on children both at school and at home, according to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al. Administrators were able to activate the laptop's webcam at will, and take pictures of children and their families.
The issue came up when the Robbins' child was disciplined by the school for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence.
If these allegations are true, it's not as if we haven't been warned. Cory Doctorow, writing in his 2008 book Little Brother, wrote about exactly this sort of practice:
(Little Brother cover [non-etext version])
I got back to class and sat down again... I unpacked the school's standard-issue machine and got back into classroom mode. The SchoolBooks were the snitchiest technology of them all, logging every keystroke, watching all the network traffic for suspicious keywords, counting every click, keeping track of every fleeting thought you put out over the net. We'd gotten them in my junior year, and it only took a couple months for the shininess to wear off. Once people figured out that these "free" laptops worked for the man -- and showed a never-ending parade of obnoxious ads to boot -- they suddenly started to feel very heavy and burdensome.
Cracking my SchoolBook had been easy. The crack was online within a month of the machine showing up...
(Read more about Doctorow's SchoolBook laptop)
See also the scoop on ParanoidLinux.
Update: In a statement released late Thursday, Christopher McGinley, the superintendent of Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa., admitted that the MacBooks' cameras could be turned on without the user's knowledge, but said that the functionality was part of a security feature.
"Laptops are a frequent target for theft in schools and off-school property," said McGinley. "The security feature was installed to help locate a laptop in the event it was reported lost, missing or stolen so that the laptop could be returned to the student."
Laptop cameras have only been activated for that purpose, McGinley continued. "The District has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever," he said.
From Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (pdf) via BoingBoing.; update from Computerworld.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/17/2010)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )
Related News Stories -
China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation
'Programmed to hang... in a hexagonal grid pattern.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.
RFID Chipped Employees Of Three Square Market
'About a third of the people in Manhattan have replaced their Freedom Card with a radio-frequency chip...' - John Twelve Hawks, 2015.
SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...' - Manly Wade Wellman, 1938.
Cyborg DragonflEye At Your Command
'The dragonfly responded like a toy airplane, taking off and heading east...'
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Biggest HiSeas 'Mars Mission' Problem? No Internet
I think sf writers have this covered!
Clever Electric Truck Generates More Power Than It Uses
Better than a fictional electrotruck!
Eden-ISS, Greenhouse In Antarctica
'With this kind of light we could get the gardens going again."
Make Space Tools On The Spot (Like Moties)
'A moment ago it was squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon...'
Will Robots Be Moral If We Raise Them Like Our Children?
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'
Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
How hard can it be?
Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...'
Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Artificial Spider Silk
You can also use it to make a roof - on an asteroid.
MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...'
Seiko Astron Always Knows Your Time Zone
'Harrington glanced at his wrist watch - a bulky affair - and whistled.'
Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.'
CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept Video
'...the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'
The Neuroon Open Sleep Tracker For Lucid Dreaming
'Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer on the bedside shelf.'
Siri Now Smoother, Perkier (Thanks, Deep Learning!)
'Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories