School issued laptops spy on students

School issued laptops spy on students

This one is a bizarre story:

School District Is Accused of Webcam Spying 

Basically, a school gave kids laptops to take home and use.  Great thing, right?  However they could turn on the webcams and take pictures of the students…at home! 

The school district’s defense is that they would use it only if the laptop was reported stolen or lost.  Presumably, you would see who was using the laptop, and use that information to aid in recovery.

Wow, that seems like a bad idea!  So, a high school student could pretend to be another kid’s parent, report that a laptop was stolen, and the school would peep into the other kid’s bedroom? 

Student Blake Robbins and his parents have sued the school, after an Assistant Principal at the Lower Merrion School District (Pennsylvania) allegedly reported that Blake had done something inappropriate…at home.

That’s a very scary thought!  The principal says they never used the spycam except to try to locate a lost, missing, or stolen laptop…but that still doesn’t make it okay, in my opinion.

Of course, you company could hypothetically do that.  Your work laptop could be watching you right now. 

A lot of people also don’t know about keylogs.  You can put a free program on your computer, and it will log every keystroke used.  Companies do that on company issued laptops, sometimes.  It will track when you go to a website, even record your username and password.  Of course, if your company said you can’t use it for personal purposes, that would be okay with you, right?  I mean, it’s not like they are getting your financial information…or tracked what you are looking at on Amazon.  Right?  Right?   A company would never do that…

Teenagers do have privacy rights, even though they don’t always exercise them.  It’s pretty surprising to me that there was no legal review of this program before the school district put it into place…oh, I know, there aren’t a lot of legal resources at public schools (I think that’s what this is)  Still, my guess is that this lawsuit is going to cost the school a lot more money than a lost laptop would have cost them. 

So, now you have to wonder…who’s watching you?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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