School accused of spying on students at home

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PostSat Feb 20, 2010 7:43 am » by Bahb3


Insurance would cover most of it.

Someone should lose their job...I don't think this is worthy for a punitive settlement.

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PostMon Feb 22, 2010 4:22 am » by Dirttyrabbit


Big Brother Not Just Spying On Schoolchildren Through Their Laptops
The scandal surrounding kids being spied on at home via webcams in laptops provided by schools extends further than just schoolchildren – four years ago Google admitted that it was implementing similar invasive surveillance technologies that would target all Americans.

A school district in Philadelphia faces a class action lawsuit after it allegedly issued laptop computers to 1,800 students across two high schools and then used concealed cameras within the machines to spy on students and their parents without their knowledge or consent.

Lower Merion School District in the suburbs of Philadelphia faces charges of invasion of privacy, theft of private information, and unlawful interception for providing computers with webcams that were remotely and covertly turned on by administrators.

The suit was brought on behalf of all the students and their parents after it was revealed that the computers had been used to monitor students both at school and at home.

The story harks back to revelations of how private industry and eventually government are implementing plans to use microphones in the computers of hundreds of millions of Internet active Americans to spy on their lifestyle choices and build psychological profiles which will be used for surveillance and minority report style invasive advertising and data mining.

In 2006, Google announced that they would use in-built microphones to listen in on user’s background noise, be it television, music or radio – and then direct advertising at them based on their preferences.

“The idea is to use the existing PC microphone to listen to whatever is heard in the background, be it music, your phone going off or the TV turned down. The PC then identifies it, using fingerprinting, and then shows you relevant content, whether that’s adverts or search results, or a chat room on the subject,” reported the Register.

Hundreds of millions of Internet-active Americans will all be potential targets for secret surveillance and the subsequent sell-off of all their information to unscrupulous data mining corporations and government agencies.

The report cites the inevitability that the use and abuse of this technology will eventually be taken over by the state.

“Pretty soon the security industry is going to find a way to hijack the Google feed and use it for full on espionage,” states the article.

Google’s recent announcement that it will work with America’s most well-known spy agency, the NSA , which was embroiled in the warrantless surveillance scandal during the Bush administration, only heightens concerns that big brother will have a virtual wiretap in every home that has a computer.
The laptop spying case, Blake J. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (PDF), was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.

According to the filing, the actions of the school district were exposed when one of the school’s vice principals disciplined Mr Robbins’ son for “improper behavior in his home,” and used a photo taken from the computer camera as evidence.

“Michael Robbins thereafter verified, through Ms. Matsko, (an assistant principal) 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 complaint states.

“Additionally, by virtue of the fact that the webcam can be remotely activated at any time by the school district, the webcam will capture anything happening in the room in which the laptop computer is located, regardless of whether the student is sitting at the computer and using it.” it continues.

Nowhere in any “written documentation accompanying the laptop,” or in any “documentation appearing on any Web site or handed out to students or parents concerning the use of the laptop,” was any reference made “to the fact that the school district has the ability to remotely activate the embedded webcam at any time the school district wished to intercept images from that webcam of anyone or anything appearing in front of the camera,” the complaint also states.

The computers were provided via an initiative funded by state and federal grants to the students at Harriton High School in Rosemont, PA and Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA.

According to comments by the district’s Superintendent, Christopher McGinley, the initiative “enhances opportunities for ongoing collaboration, and ensures that all students have 24/7 access to school based resources and the ability to seamlessly work on projects and research at school and at home.”

What McGinley failed to add was that it also provided the school with 24/7 access to the students and their families.

The plaintiffs also note in their complaint that “the laptops at issue were routinely used by students and family members while at home,” and 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 stage of dress or undress.”

The plaintiffs are seeking damages in respect of not only a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, but also a host of other federal and state privacy laws, including the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, and Pennsylvania common law.

The laptop spying case is just another example of how surveillance technologies have been used for methods that amount to child abuse for years. We have reported on numerous cases of school officials installing cameras in school bathrooms which allow perverts to spy on children in various stages of undress.
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PostMon Feb 22, 2010 4:31 am » by Lowsix


A strip of tape, surfing with a proxy, a MAC, a router firewall, mac firewall, and a Norton Firewall all employed simultaneously puts those snooping hopes and dreams on hold.

I promise.

But dont get me wrong...
Shitty on so many levels it turns my stomach.
Local school districts here use Timbuktu, although
the students dont get laptops, the teachers do.

The IT dept DOES scan the drives during monthly check-ins for porn and things like that...which since the teachers Do sign comprehensive agreements, i have no problem with, UNLESS there are similar software packages being deployed without warning..

But as far as ADULT teachers go (NOT underage students) I feel that those are appropriate steps, and with the agreements, they cover legal ass...and adult teachers should know better than to be using school laptops for 'adult' orientated personal ventures anyways.

But the google and remote activated webcams on students...
BAD BAD BAD on every level..
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PostMon Feb 22, 2010 9:41 pm » by sockpuppet


Know what stinks? I can't prove it, but I remember last fall learning about Philadelphia basing the performance reports of principals on the number of children the principals could bring in for free breakfasts...

Coupled with a serious debate in Philadelphia on extending the school day until 5:30pm.
I have no doubt that dinner would be served to the low-income students as well.

So, the state has kids from 7:15 am until 5:30pm (possibly later for dinner), feeds them 3 meals a day, and now they are spying on them at home... With as much time and influence the teachers and bureaucrats have over the children, and as marginalized as the parents are, how different is this from sending kids away to mandatory state boarding school???

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PostTue Feb 23, 2010 3:16 am » by Papermoon


dirttyrabbit wrote:Big Brother Not Just Spying On Schoolchildren Through Their Laptops
The scandal surrounding kids being spied on at home via webcams in laptops provided by schools extends further than just schoolchildren – four years ago Google admitted that it was implementing similar invasive surveillance technologies that would target all Americans.

In 2006, Google announced that they would use in-built microphones to listen in on user’s background noise, be it television, music or radio – and then direct advertising at them based on their preferences.

“The idea is to use the existing PC microphone to listen to whatever is heard in the background, be it music, your phone going off or the TV turned down. The PC then identifies it, using fingerprinting, and then shows you relevant content, whether that’s adverts or search results, or a chat room on the subject,” reported the Register.

Hundreds of millions of Internet-active Americans will all be potential targets for secret surveillance and the subsequent sell-off of all their information to unscrupulous data mining corporations and government agencies.

The report cites the inevitability that the use and abuse of this technology will eventually be taken over by the state.

“Pretty soon the security industry is going to find a way to hijack the Google feed and use it for full on espionage,” states the article.

Google’s recent announcement that it will work with America’s most well-known spy agency, the NSA , which was embroiled in the warrantless surveillance scandal during the Bush administration, only heightens concerns that big brother will have a virtual wiretap in every home that has a computer.
The laptop spying case, Blake J. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (PDF), was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.

provided the school with 24/7 access to the students and their families.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/how-you-cou ... andal.html



That is some scary stuff as to what they are capable of doing! That is just sooooo wrong and crazy! :o

sockpuppet wrote:Know what stinks? I can't prove it, but I remember last fall learning about Philadelphia basing the performance reports of principals on the number of children the principals could bring in for free breakfasts...

Coupled with a serious debate in Philadelphia on extending the school day until 5:30pm.
I have no doubt that dinner would be served to the low-income students as well.

So, the state has kids from 7:15 am until 5:30pm (possibly later for dinner), feeds them 3 meals a day, and now they are spying on them at home... With as much time and influence the teachers and bureaucrats have over the children, and as marginalized as the parents are, how different is this from sending kids away to mandatory state boarding school???

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Yeah that's scary too! True they might as well be in some boarding school! That is too much control. :top:
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PostTue Feb 23, 2010 5:32 am » by Dirttyrabbit


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Students of this school are being spied upon by teachers, including Assistant Principal Dan Ackerman. In another case Lower Merion School District spied on students even when they were at home. This is the risk every user of proprietary software has to accept. Switch to free software which doesn't have spying capabilities.

"They don't even realize we're watching"

"According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines. " - Boing Boing
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PostFri Feb 26, 2010 3:52 am » by Papermoon


Yup, that is a shame! Beware everyone who has webcams! You never know who's watching! :peep:
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PostFri Feb 26, 2010 4:17 am » by Papermoon


Check this out, and imagine if this nut also decided to do something to make it so that he can access her webcam remotely too instead of just stealing files. You never know who's watching, people better unplug their webcams or cover up the camera when not using it. ;) :peep:


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PostFri Feb 26, 2010 4:36 am » by Mahsooyee


papermoon wrote:Check this out, and imagine if this nut also decided to do something to make it so that he can access her webcam remotely too instead of just stealing files. You never know who's watching, people better unplug their webcams or cover up the camera when not using it. ;) :peep:


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These types of behaviors are truly sickening :cry: The intrusion of privacy is inexcusable under any circumstances and to target children is downright beyond criminal!
Everyone now must be wary of taking your 'puter in for a repair...ya never know what will go down with the tech. According to the vid the majority of shops were crooked. One must learn to not leave pertinent info so easy to access...best to keep important stuff on a back up drive and a few flash drives. At least keep stuff away from prying eyes!!

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PostFri Feb 26, 2010 8:31 am » by Papermoon


Yup, exactly!
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