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PA School Spied On Students Via School-Issued Laptop Webcams

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the wait-for-your-health-insurance-computer dept.

Privacy 941

jargon82 writes "A Pennsylvania high school is using laptops they issued to students to spy on them in homes and outside of school. According to a class action filling the webcams and microphones in these laptops could be remotely activated by school officials, and have been used in this role. One student was accused of 'improper behavior in his home' and the school provided a photo taken via his laptop as proof."

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Tape (5, Insightful)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188150)

Solves all problems. At least the ones that WD-40 can't.

Re:Tape (0)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188230)

How is OP offtopic? Tape could have been used to cover the webcam...

Re:Tape (3, Insightful)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188312)

All problems? Good luck using that tape to cover the microphone...

Re:Tape (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188370)

Eyedropper filled with water...problem solved :-)

Re:Tape (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188470)

He simply wasn't paying attention when Kowalski explained it to Toad. It's THREE magic tools -- duct tape, WD-40, and a pair of vicegrips. The vicegrips will fix the microphone problem, and actually should be used on the school's principal.

I hope the parents of the affected kids get a million bucks apiece from the district, and somebody in the school's administration goes to prison. A peeping Tom would get prison, how is this not the same thing only worse? School administrators should be made to realize that they're not gods, and the kids and their parents have rights.

If any of the parents are like some people I know, those administrators should be fearing for their personal safety.

Re:Tape (5, Insightful)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188402)

Solves all symptoms. The problem remains.

Re:Tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188404)

"ohhh, so close!
The correct answer was obviously "duc[k|t] tape", the reference to WD-40 should have been a dead giveaway!
Jack, tell him about the nice consolation prizes for playing..."

Re:Tape (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188474)

These guys were taping the kids, and look where it got them!

Hmm (5, Interesting)

LogarithmicSpiral (1463679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188168)

Does anyone see some child porn charges coming here?

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188302)

    No shit. Not that I advocate underage people doing anything, but all it takes is one girl changing clothes in her room with the laptop turned on, and then they have a stack of federal charges.

    I'm pretty sure there are some federal charges that can be associated with that anyways.

Re:Hmm (2, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188466)

I think they'd have to record it for it to be child pornography. Streaming would be sexual exploitation of a child and whatever the legal term for peeping-tom is.

But then I knew of some teachers in my high school who had no problem watching students have sex in a car in the school parking lot. Not via cameras; live viewing through a window overlooking the parking lot. (They just wouldn't let me have a look.)

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188510)

To me, the whole idea that a school could possibly accuse a student of "inappropriate behavior in the home" is worse than the web cams. Seriously, WTF? This is taking the whole "school as babysitter" thing a bit to far.

Re:Hmm (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188342)

I can. I hope they get nailed. I can't imagine what would I do if I was the one targeted by those webcams.

Milton said it best: (2, Insightful)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188554)

I'm going to have to burn down the building.

Re:Hmm (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188634)

If you were underage, file kiddie porn charges...
You would get a huge damages award and some IT flunky would get nailed for it, the administration would walk away scott free.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188548)

I hope it didn't happen, but if it did, I hope they're prosecuted to whatever extent the somewhat ridiculous porn laws in the US will allow.

Should (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188552)

Someone should go to jail for this.

Child porn charges should be raised, of course. Further, the cameras/mics could be used to spy on anyone in the house, including adults who are not in any way, shape, or form under the guardianship of the school. So any argument about guardianship is moot.

Sadly, no one will go to jail for this. Some administrator will be told not to do it again, and the school board will be fined, and that will be the end of it. At least, that is all that happened when a school nurse (not a cop) forced a child to strip and wiggle (without probable cause, for that matter).

I don't understand how a society that is so obsessed with protecting the children that it tries children as adults for crimes that wouldn't have been crimes if the children were adults can turn around and let adults off scott-free when they directly break the law to the detriment of children.

Irrationality really frustrates me. And scares me, too.

Re:Hmm (5, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188588)

Here's the full list of claims they're making:

Electronic Communications Privacy Act - interception of communications
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act - exceeding authorized access
Stored Communication Act - more unauthorized access
Civil Rights Act - Invasion of Privacy
4th Amendment - Invasion of Privacy
Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act - wiretapping
Pennsylvania common law (1) - Invasion of Privacy

(1) footnote reads: "Should discovery disclose that the Defendants are in possession of images constituting child pornography [...] Plaintiffs will amend this Complaint to assert a cause of action thereunder."

Bonus: Not only does the class action include the 1,800 students, but all their family members.
That school district is fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked

I dont see the problem here (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188174)

They were obviously trying to weed out all those terrorists, commies, subversives or whatever the government is at war with this time.
Its better to start at an early age.
I cant wait until they can scan foetal DNA to find out if its going to be a paedophile or terrorist.

How? (-1, Flamebait)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188186)

How could the school have thought this wasn't a terrible idea.

That is, how could a school not in Florida or Texas have thought this wasn't a terrible idea.

Re:How? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188266)

Isn't PA a blue state? Seems your prejudice is somewhat misplaced.

Re:How? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188598)

Eh? Blue state? PA has long been considered a swing state, though it has voted democrat for president a few times in a row. In the house, democrats hold an 11-7 edge. In the Senate there are two democrats (if you can call Arlen Specter a democrat..). So currently they are a majority democrat, but in the past have been republican... they switch back and forth a lot. Anyway, the politics of the state have nothing to do with the Florida/Texas comment. Florida and Texas school systems are often viewed as some of the most authoritarian/big brother in the country.

I must say, when they came out with _1984_ (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188536)

I must say, when they came out with actual implementation of 1984's technology and systems for control and oppression, I expected it would be part of something a little more... sophisticated. Just a little. Maybe even a little cool. (Dare I hope?)

This is sad. Very sad, only.

Turn it around (5, Insightful)

initialE (758110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188190)

And accuse school officials of pedophilia. This will be fun...

Re:Turn it around (5, Funny)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188220)

But I was only recording the students' every action!

How could I have known they'd undress at some point?

at the very least (4, Interesting)

heffy (1583469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188202)

School officials might avoid child porn charges if they prove they didn't see any lewd images, but I definitely see a lot of people getting fired.

Re:at the very least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188362)

At the very least this should be considered stalking.

Re:at the very least (2, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188390)

School officials might avoid child porn charges if they prove they didn't see any lewd images,

First of all, you cannot prove that. Secondly, they knew the software was there, making them guilty of TRYING to produce child pornography.

Seriously. If they "happen" to have pictures of some kid "behaving improperly", they will definitely have pictures/movies of everything else that kid has been doing.

Re:at the very least (3, Interesting)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188478)

First of all, you cannot prove that. Secondly, they knew the software was there, making them guilty of TRYING to produce child pornography.

Seriously. If they "happen" to have pictures of some kid "behaving improperly", they will definitely have pictures/movies of everything else that kid has been doing.

That is exactly what everyone who had a hand in setting this up, or who KNEW that this had been set up, should be charged with ASAP. Conspiracy to create child pornography, because they set up a situation almost CERTAIN TO PRODUCE IT!

People certainly have been charged with child porn or similar charges for a lot less, including activity that didn't actually involve a minor (ie: a cop pretending to be one). These monsters were ACTUALLY RECORDING VIDEO AND AUDIO OF CHILDREN WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT!

Re:at the very least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188504)

Don't you know, mere possession of CP is grounds for a conviction. I recall a case where the only thing found on the individuals computer was a 150 X 150 thumbnail of CP and the individual was convicted seemingly without difficulty. You seem to be suffering from a common affliction in today's society, belief in common sense. At least in today's US legal system this is as foreign a concept as compassion & equality was to the NAZI's during WWII.

Re:at the very least (5, Informative)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188646)

School officials might avoid child porn charges if they prove they didn't see any lewd images, but I definitely see a lot of people getting fired.

The AP is reporting that they allegedly did see lewd images.

The lawsuit alleges the cameras captured images of Harriton High School students and their families as they undressed and in other compromising situations.

If a student was dressing in front of their laptop (1, Redundant)

scoser (780371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188206)

You could probably nail the school for possession of child pornography.

Re:If a student was dressing in front of their lap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188568)

I've got a few better ideas:

- Not punishing them for unrelated reasons which ignore the bigger issue.
- Not exploiting the ignorance and fear of the common person for our short-term benefit.
- Not encouraging the use of easily-abused laws and damaging the already tenous fairness and justice of our society.
- Not lowering ourselves to the level of pond scum.

How about, you know, punishing them FOR WHAT THEY DID WRONG? You know, justice? Spirit of the law?

Think of the children (0, Redundant)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188214)

The schools sure were .. and now I'm waiting for all of the school officials who had access to this or contributed to performing this act to be charged with child porn.

This world needs a "reset" button (1, Insightful)

l0l0_ph0r3v3r (1679698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188228)

Anarchy is the REAL democracy and freedom.

Re:This world needs a "reset" button (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188324)

Anarchy is the REAL democracy and freedom.

If the world returned to anarchy, you would be enslaved or eaten by the man with bigger arms. Your friends' popular votes against that man's actions would be worthless. How is that democratic?

Re:This world needs a "reset" button (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188406)

when the popular militia stands up and says enough's enough. Comardes, whether Spanish or English, American or Chinese, we are one class of people with the same hopes and aspirations. Every victory that takes Franco closer to power in Spain also takes the Fascists closer to power here, soon enough dragging all freedom-loving peoples down to barbarism and war.

Oh, wait... that shit already happened. Never mind.

Re:This world needs a "reset" button (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188610)

Yeah, Franco won.

Hang on there.. year 2010 is coming.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188394)

and World War III is around the corner. In the New Age, the eastern civilization will replace the barbaric western civilization and true enlightenment will come. A society without government and slavery.

Hang on there.. year 2012 is coming.... (0, Redundant)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188434)

fixed that title for you.

Re:This world needs a "reset" button (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188678)

Unfortunately there's no change without a body count.

Es-ca-pe (1)

G2GAlone (1600001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188232)

How did they think would get away with that? It's one thing if they detected the laptop was on the school's Wifi and then they can activate the webcam then. Still a privacy issue but at least it's within their grounds. If everything was recorded I would have to assume that one of the adults watching saw what could be considered "kiddie-porn". This isn't going to end well for the school I'm sure.

convict them - then home monitor THEM! (3, Interesting)

rcpitt (711863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188240)

Personally I hope those responsible for this invasion of privacy are subjected to home monitoring - by the whole internet. Strap a camera around their neck and make them wear it and broadcast continuously for at least 1 year.

Idiots!

Re:convict them - then home monitor THEM! (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188354)

    It wouldn't last for a year. The first time they take a shower, {{KERZAP}}

    Not a bad plan though. I can think of worse ways to put a pedophile out of his misery. Then again, I could write a pretty wicked murder mystery book, or horror film. :)

Re:convict them - then home monitor THEM! (1)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188674)

I'd rather see them rot in a jail.

Fuck you (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188258)

One student was accused of 'improper behavior in his home'

Fuck you I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you I won't do what you tell me
FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!
Motherfucker!
Ughhh!

Stupidity (4, Insightful)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188268)

WTF is "improper behavior in the home", and why does the school seem to think that it's their business?

Re:Stupidity (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188296)

What does it mean? It means whoever said it needs to be slapped in the face until they die.

Re:Stupidity (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188618)

Masturbation. Obviously, the child was cheating on their Abstinence-Education class.

Seriously, this whole thing is sick.

Why boingboing? (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188272)

The Associated Press is covering this [yahoo.com] (link is to Yahoo; just about any paper will have the same content). Boingboing (who I see no reason to visit) is probably quoting or otherwise parroting the AP. It makes me wonder if jargon82 works for or is part owner of boingboing?

Google News lists 25 separate, highly respected news sites such as the London Telegraph, Philadelphia Enqiuirer, USA Toady, Toronto Star, Ars Technica, The Consumerist... Yet slashdot links boingboing?

WTF?

Re:Why boingboing? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188350)

The submission system is broken. If you submit something with a crappy summary and it gets rejected, it will block submissions with that article link, so someone with a good summary must find another source.

Re:Why boingboing? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188630)

The submission system is broken.

The submission system is fine. The idiot slashdot "editor" that doesn't do any editing, Q/A, dupe checking, spell checking, or anything else useful is broken.

Why Slashdot's Cory Doctorow Fixation? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188364)

Answer one question and you have the answer to the other.

I'm not sure, but I think polaroids are involved...

Re:Why boingboing? (2, Informative)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188412)

What's wrong with boingboing's coverage of it? Seems like a perfectly good article to me. Ars even links to the boingboing one.

Re:Why boingboing? (1)

anonymousJUGGERNAUT (909643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188420)

If you think the info is going to be the same AP stuff at any of those locations, why _not_ boingboing? Do you have a problem with boingboing for some reason?

Why am I not surprised. (4, Insightful)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188284)

School officials tend to think themselves as above the law / the law way too many times in my personal experience, not surprised that some decided they would also be the police in these kids homes.

I hope they lose this suit. Hard.

Re:Why am I not surprised. (-1, Redundant)

Heem (448667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188452)

this.

Re:Why am I not surprised. (2, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188606)

School officials tend to think themselves as above the law / the law way too many times in my personal experience, not surprised that some decided they would also be the police in these kids homes.

They are pretty much being trained to think of themselves as such, as it suits the government educational establishment and the goals of the statists who maintain a near government monopoly on education.

IE: control the kids, control the eventual adult. Teach them that this is "normal" and that they aren't to step out of line or the state will be on them.

I hope they lose this suit. Hard.

So do I, but you will see the school district start pleading poverty, and they will get sympathetic treatment by the courts. The courts, being another government entity aren't exactly impartial.

This case should go beyond suing. These people should be locked up. They should ALREADY be locked up pending trial. People who would do such a thing, to monitor children in this way without any reason, without any consent, without any standing in law to do so are a threat to society and shouldn't be walking the streets, much less running a school!

Re:Why am I not surprised. (5, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188616)

I have to agree. My daughter's elementary wants to press criminal charges against us for taking her on a 4-day trip to see Grandma on Thanksgiving. We notified the teacher and the school beforehand, got her classwork and homework, and had her turn it in the day she got back. As it turns out, 3 days would have been ok. Because it was 1 day more, I'm harboring a future-gang member and deserve to go to jail! The school officials here are completely insane.

Could be embarrassing (1)

grahammm (9083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188286)

It could be rather embarrassing for the school, and they may even get in trouble, if they turned on the camera when the student was using the laptop in a situation where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy - such as while sitting on the toilet.

Re:Could be embarrassing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188572)

>a situation where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy - such as while sitting on the toilet.

Or, you know, merely existing within the privacy of your own home should be enough. Let's not give these gung-ho school officials any leeway where they clearly broke the law regardless of what the students ever did.

Re:Could be embarrassing (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188708)

Like sitting on the toilet? How about stepping through the front door of their parent's house?

Logistics? (5, Insightful)

phormalitize (1748504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188294)

Going through the data generated by this would require a ton of manpower, I would imagine... so were they actually paying people to spy on students after school hours were over? Or did they just pick kids they really hated and wait for them to do something incriminating? Who came up with this?! It boggles the mind.

Re:Logistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188664)

Going through the data generated by this would require a ton of manpower, I would imagine... so were they actually paying people to spy on students after school hours were over?

No, they just look at the teenage girls with boobies.

Re:Logistics? (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188682)

My guess is that they decided to set up this option in cases of theft or otherwise missing laptops. A while back slashdot had an article about a macbook that was found because the thief didn't realize in time that the camera was enabled by the owner.

I doubt they intended to watch kids regularly...even "problem" kids. But perhaps if the kid was playing hooky then they might have thought it'd be okay to turn it on, find where they are and inform the parents. Still incredibly stupid and wrong but more understandable how people could justify it in their minds.

Kiddie porn (4, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188308)

If I were one of those students and under-aged (18), I'd claim that they were guilty of producing child pornography because I had been naked in front of my laptop.

Hell, I'd go as far as to tell them that I have masturbated in front of it.

Fuck them and whomever came up with that idea, that includes IT personnel, school administrators, PTA and whoever else have have even a superficial finger in this and haven't said 'no'.

If I went to school there... (1)

calibre-not-output (1736770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188314)

... I'd undress and masturbate vigorously in front of my laptop the minute I heard of this, just to have grounds for suing. And then I'd wipe the hard drive and install Linux. Am I the only person reminded of Orwell's Telescreens?

Re:If I went to school there... (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188492)

Orwell is so '1984'!

This is Nineteen Eleventy! Seriously, you think anyone in charge of a school has ever read 1984? No one cares about history anymore...

Boundaries Exceeded (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188332)

Someone over stepped his boundaries, whether it is an administrative or some low level tech. Either way there will be heads rolling.

What does inappropriate behavior mean? (5, Insightful)

zenchemical (1468505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188334)

One of the most disturbing things in this story is that the school deemed "inappropriate behavior" of the student. I have read the legal briefs and a number of other sources and have not been able to determine what this is. What on earth could a school say about MY child that would be considered inappropriate behaviour? Drinking? No, sorry, covered by privacy rights. The only thing I can think of would be inappropriate use of school equipment. The inappropriateness of anything in the home would be determined by the parent.

Re:What does inappropriate behavior mean? (0)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188644)

How is this insightful? There are scores of things that would fall under this category. Killing kittens, having sex with his mother, watching WWE come to mind. Privacy rights have no bearing on whether something is appropriate or not. Only on whether the evidence is usable or not. Which obviously in this case it isn't. What he did has no bearing on the case, which is why it isn't talked about.

Re:What does inappropriate behavior mean? (2, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188670)

The only thing I could think of would be inappropriate use of the school-issued laptop, and that's the one thing the laptop's web cam couldn't see! What's sacry is there there are people (across the political spectrum) who would support the idea that the government would spy on your kids to make sure they never do anything naughty.

Don't take candy from the government (3, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188340)

This is why you don't want "free" computers from the government, you want the government to NOT take that money away from you to begin with so you can buy your own computer...

It's shocking, given the general lack of tech competence by school bureaucrat types that they did this and thought they could get away with it. And why aren't there criminal charges? This isn't any different than them putting cameras (potentially) in the bathrooms of minors for the purposes of procuring child pornography.

This goes far beyond stupid school administrators, this is a blatant case of GOVERNMENT actors out of control, willfully violating the Constitution (and scores of other laws) and they need to be punished. Not just fired, everyone responsible for this need to spend some quality time in a "pound me in the ass" prison.

Re:Don't take candy from the government (4, Insightful)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188592)

This is why you don't want "free" computers from the government...

Um, I don't think you'd want "free" computers from a for-profit company either.

Nothing is for free.

What kind of crack were they on? (5, Insightful)

panoptical2 (1344319) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188348)

First, there's no way that you can take illegally obtained "evidence" and punish the student for it. It goes against the 4th amendment, and is unethical on so many levels. I strongly doubt that this case will go too far in court.

Second, why the hell do they need to spy on students anyway? It's good that they're giving the students laptops, but what they do at home (regardless of all the stupid shit they do) is none of the school's business, nor is it in their jurisdiction. I could make a rant about how parents need to step it up and take better care of their kids, but I'll just sum it up: schools should stay out of parental territories. It's bad for the student, and it's bad for the school.

Whoever was running this, either the school IT admins or even the higher school administration should be at least suspended pending further review.

The bigger question... (4, Insightful)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188392)

What exactly is "improper behavior in the home", and who would believe it was appropriate for a school to accuse the kid of it?

No surprise here (4, Insightful)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188396)

In a society where we are now so ready to trade privacy and other personal liberties for the (often empty) promise of security, it is no surprise at all that this or that government entity should feel no compunction at this gross affront to the privacy of their students and their families. And let's be clear, someone had to have had second thoughts about this, and still they went ahead with this staggeringly stupid plan.

I hope that not only do the tools responsible for this have their asses handed to them in civil court, I sincerely hope that those asses are then tossed into prison for what has to be a long list of criminal statutes that have been violated.

Fat Chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188594)

I suggest you to do research on your local gun laws and prepare an alternate plan of action.

The ever growing list of reasons (2, Insightful)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188408)

to homeschool. These education people are pretty fucked up.

Legal? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188416)

That cannot be even close to legal.

They don't care (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188668)

The big brother don't care about being legal, because they don't have to. If they do they won't exist.

Big Brother (1)

AMDuser (1725288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188424)

Big brother one it way to a school near you. I think we should do this to School officials and Government officials. The Students should have a Ubuntu live CD so that they can go off the record.

Bigbrother tag (2, Informative)

dvoecks (1000574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188442)

Finally a 1984 reference that I can get behind. People toss out "Big Brother" any time surveillance comes up, but it never quite fits. There was so much more to that novel than the pervasive surveillance. I always feel like referencing it in a discussion about surveillance does the book a disservice. However, I'm going to bless this one. Selectively watching students at home is about as close to the "telescreen" as you're going to get.

I hate this (1)

djfuq (1151563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188454)

I hate this country even more from reading this article.

I hate it! I hate the news that comes out of here! I hate the way we treat people! I hate the religions! I hate the commercialism! I hate the advertising industry! I hate small print! I hate the eduction system! I hate the city, county, and state governments! I hate the laws that are made to suck money from ordinary people! I hate the credit system! I hate the banks! I hate the housing industry. I hate the military! I hate wars! I hate the loss of privacy! I hate the paternalism! I hate the rampant ideological belief in superstitious bullshit! I hate republicans! I hate democrats I hate Libertarians! I hate the entertainment industry! I hate!!! I hate Slashdot's karma system for making people like me who disagree with the status quo out to be trolls.... I hate it all!

Have a nice day! :-)

Re:I hate this (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188584)

I hate you.

I forsee criminal charges. (2, Insightful)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188500)

If law enforcement in that area, along with the DA, are willing to do their jobs, then I foresee serious criminal charges for the person or people involved with this mess. As agents of the government, which any government employee is, such a person or people must have a warrant in order to engage in such activities. Since this spying was going on in the student's home and not at school, the school official(s) cannot claim they were within their right to spy.

Looking a computer logs, while a stretch itself, might be legal in some circumstances, actively spying on a person's activities in their home is highly illegal. This should get very interesting, if the people involved with bringing the lawsuit are willing to go the distance with the case.

Bad method of correction (3, Interesting)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188522)

Beautiful job by the lawyers in this case. They're the only winners. It is a class action where all students in the district are members of the class. Seeking liquidated damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. Assuming they "win", then these same families will be able to vote themselves a new tax levy to pay for the damages awarded, plus the attorney fees of both sides.

On the face of it, the school screwed up royally. No doubt about it. But did anyone even try to work this out via another method? Did the school board know about this? Since they are probably parents in the district, my guess is that they did not know.

I think the board should fire the administration for cause. If they have to pay some lawyers to make that stick, so be it. It would still be less expensive than this class action.

Not snooping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188526)

There was no snooping, it turns out the student in question was on Chatroulette...

Webcams probably not activated remotely (1)

m_dob (639585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188560)

If, on the other hand, the student had a program like Photo Booth or Skype and in use, the school administrator would have been able to see what the webcam saw. The court filing does not seem to state with any authority what software or system was used.

If that's true, they are in so much shit... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188576)

Clear cut illegal eavesdropping. Likely civil rights violations. Possibly child pornography if they turned it on at the wrong time.

Really easy to get the jury on your side with the crying 13 year old telling how she always left the laptop open on the desk in her bedroom, where she got changed each day and how the thought that her teachers were watching gives her nightmares.

I can't fathom how anyone could possibly have thought this was a good idea...

And then to try and punish someone for what they did in their own home as well?

It's not the school kids that need civics lessons.

WTF?! (3, Insightful)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188578)

I absolutely DARE some school official to try this with my kids. I don't play the stupid game where they think they have even an ounce of authority over what my child does after stepping off the bus. In fact, if they punished my son for anything he did at home, I'll buy him ice cream for every day he's suspended and encourage him to make noise about it and resist in a smug, non-violent way as well as writing every official, politician and journalist I can find in a 100 mile radius. And then, I'll just be getting started. I'm not afraid of DSS either. I even *gasp* spank my kids.

The problem is sticking up for yourself and actually exercising your rights gets you branded as a radical, a criminal or a terrorist. This needs to end. I'm willing to live a harder life to live it with my liberty, pride and self-respect intact and I have. I've lost jobs, promotions, etc solely on sticking to values and principals and refusing to do the wrong thing. It's cost me.....dearly in some cases but at least I can honestly say that I'm free. There used to be a lot of people like this.

The school's job is to pour a bit of knowledge in his head. Teaching morality and values is the parent's job. They need to stay the hell off of my turf and stop overstepping their bounds. Period. What my son's personality is like, his habits, etc is none of their business outside that building.

You have got to be kidding me... (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188586)

Consitutional scholars have been debating privacry rights for a long time now. But with our own laws and the added British Commonlaw is there nothing to prevent this type of thing?

If I recall correctly there was a peeping tom case that had some poor smuck who was getting some coffee in the buff, in his own home, and yet he was the one who was charged.

Look, I'm a big fan of jurance prudence. But we need to make our system work because when it's a joke then nobody will respect the laws.

As an American (USAian) I see that what is holding us together is a sense of purpose. We ignore the really stupid stuff that is on our books and really try to do what is correct. But we should make an effort to make sure that the books are correct too. It's not like we don't have the manpower. (Most barristers per capta.)

Which Software Was Used? (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188620)

I'm curious: what specific software did they choose to do this with?
Inquiring minds want to know. :)

If you have something that you don't want anyone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188640)

If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

Eric Schmidt, Google

Occams Razor will serve you well (3, Interesting)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188648)

When the media reports a story that sounds utterly beyond the pale of sensibility, take a deep breath and exercise some skepticism.
I got $100 that says the next few days will see some "clarification" of this story that will make it seem significantly less reprehensible.
My bet is the kid used the webcam to take some photos that then ended up back at school.

If you read the filing... (5, Informative)

istvaan (66491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188652)

...it's actually quite interesting. I have a feeling that the folks who are looking to see child porn charges pressed might actually get their way. According to the filing, "...it is believed and therefore averred that many of the images captured and intercepted may consist of images of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including, but not limited to, in various stages of dress or undress."

Seriously, what could have made the school district think that this was, in any way, a good idea? The district itself, the school board, and the superintendent are all listed as defendants. This could be really, really interesting...

No foresight? (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188662)

WOW who was the idiot that didn't see any possible legal ramifications in doing this? In a public school no less.

If I didn't RTFA I would have said "dam private school"!

I saw something like this on TV (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31188692)

I think it was the 5th estate (I think...but don't hold me to it) doing a feature on some school using laptops only and using all kinds of new techniques including social networking. They were saying how modern they were and actually demonstrated the laptops and how they could activate the webcam and even demonstrated with a live image of some kid going about his school work. Gave me the creeps and I was thinking this is technology usage gone amuck. I would never allow this on my kids laptop. These school admins were proud of it.....ridiculous.

Students! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31188698)

Start masturbating. Get the entire school system in trouble for trafficking in child pr0n.

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