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Were Any of those Laptops Issued to Cheerleaders?

February 22, 2010

According to BoingBoing, the Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania gave its high schoolers laptops to use at home.  The laptops, however, had software on them that made it easy for the school to activate the webcams without the students’ knowledge.  They didn’t tell the kids – or their parents – that they could do this.

Later on, the High School vice principal checked up on one of the students, decided he didn’t like what he saw the child doing, took a photo of the child doing it and used that photo as evidence when disciplining the child for “improper behavior in his home” (no one is talking about what that “improper behavior” was).

Needless to say, when the parents found out that a bunch of bureaucrats could  – and had been – monitoring their children in the privacy of their own homes (and bedrooms) and that they could – and had – taken photographs of their children without the knowledge or consent of the children or their parents, they brought in a class action suit.

Now the questions abound.  Why did the school decide it needed to spy on its students at home?  What were they doing that had them take such a step?  Did they really think this wasn’t going to piss a lot of people off?  What else did they look at?  And of course, the money question – how did they determine who got the laptops?  Was it to everyone in the school or just a select few?  And if the latter, HOW were they selected?  Were they picked at random or picked because of a class they chose to attend? Or were they chosen as people they WANTED to monitor – like people they considered troublemakers.

Or were they given to children they  simply “wanted to watch…”

Update: PC Pro has more on this story.  Apparently the computers were Apple Laptops (which is VERY important for a PC magazine to note – This is all Steve Jobs’ fault – not Bill Gates’), and the school says it only activates the spyware when a laptop is lost or stolen.  And no, they did NOT say the kid they were spying on had lost or stolen the laptop – it will be very interesting to see how they wiggle around that little issue.


From → education

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