Spying on students via 'free' laptops

School administrators are spying on students at home by remotely activating the webcams on school-supplied laptops, charge parents in a lawsuit against Lower Merion School District near Philadelphia. Using state and federal fundings, the affluent district provided laptops to 1,800 high school students.

Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa., said they first found out about the alleged spying last November after their son Blake was accused by a Harriton High School official of “improper behavior in his home” and shown a photograph taken by his laptop.

An assistant principal at Harriton later confirmed that the district could remotely activate the Webcam in students’ laptops. “Michael Robbins thereafter verified, through [Assistant Principal] Ms. Matsko, that the school district in fact has the ability to remotely activate the Webcam contained in a student’s personal laptop computer issued by the school district at any time it chose and to view and capture whatever images were in front of the Webcam, all without the knowledge, permission or authorization of any persons then and there using the laptop computer,” the lawsuit stated.

It’s hard to believe this is true. I hope it’s not. The district has not responded to the lawsuit yet. Maybe the parents are crazy and there was no photo of “improper behavior.” If it is true, the administrators are crazy. And apparently don’t have enough to do with their time.

Update: The superintendent says officials remotely activated the webcams only to find lost or stolen laptops and will disable the remote activation feature. Meanwhile, students have taped over the cameras.

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