Author Topic: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students  (Read 1300 times)

Offline archer

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Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« on: February 18, 2010, 12:05:00 PM »
from: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/02/school-under-fire-for-spying-on-kid-via-webcam-at-home.ars

Parents: school used webcam to spy on our kid at home
By Jacqui Cheng | Last updated February 18, 2010 12:23 PM

...The parents of a Pennsylvania high school student, Blake J. Robbins, have filed a lawsuit against his school district after discovering that school officials had allegedly been remotely accessing the [school-provided] laptop in order to take webcam photos of the students at home (via BoingBoing). There are a number of unanswered questions about this story, but if true, it could mean serious penalties for the Lower Merion School District.

According to the complaint, the school in question (Harriton High School) had issued laptops equipped with built-in webcams to every student so that they could have "24/7 access to school based resources" and the ability to work seamlessly between school and home when it comes to research and projects. In November of 2009, however, Robbins was disciplined by the Assistant Principal of his school, Lindy Matsko, for engaging in "improper behavior" in his home. At that time, Matsko cited a photograph from the built-in webcam on the laptop.

[...snip...] For more, see the full article via the link above.

edited by Nadir_E, in accordance with DMCA rules and regulations


It's possible that things may have played out differently than the complaint alleges, though. If it was a MacBook, for example, Blake may have used the built-in Photo Booth software to take a picture of himself doing something questionable while at home, which may or may not be against the school's policy. If that photo got posted online or even synced back with the school's admins the next day, it's possible that Matsko was given access to the photo for disciplinary purposes. This, of course, doesn't account for the claim that Matsko confirmed with Michael Robbins that the school could (and had) spied on Blake remotely, but we haven't heard the school's side of the story yet.

If the Robbins' allegations are true, then it certainly looks as if there were serious privacy violations at hand. The school may have the right to retain admin control over its own laptops, but spying on kids at home without their knowledge is likely not one of them. This is similar to a case from 2008 when a Florida woman took her laptop in for repairs and eventually discovered it was rigged up to take webcam photos of her at home without her knowledge. The Peeping Tom in that case ended up confessing to the deed and getting arrested, but things could get far more complicated if a government entity (in this case, a public school) was the one guilty of the peeping.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2010, 08:34:22 AM by Nadir_E »

Offline evilphish

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Re: School spying on students....at home.
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2010, 12:36:22 PM »
If this is true, heads need to roll big time.  this is inexcusable. 

Offline Tackleberry

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Re: School spying on students....at home.
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2010, 02:37:46 PM »
If this is true, heads need to roll big time.  this is inexcusable. 

Inexcusable? Absolutely!
Does it surprise me? No.
Nothing seems off limits anymore when it comes to the gov.
When I read things like this, I ask myself, what next?

Son_of_the_Republic

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Re: School spying on students....at home.
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2010, 02:41:59 PM »
We are well on the way to a technocratic dictatorship.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: School spying on students....at home.
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2010, 03:11:47 PM »
More reasons to home school everyday.

Offline kiteflyer

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Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2010, 08:19:21 PM »
      Sure makes you think If The N.S.A. could do the same thing to every laptop and Desktop computer!
 
               kiteflyer

     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/18/harriton-high-school-spie_n_467491.html

Offline archer

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2010, 08:35:40 PM »
More reasons to home school everyday.
Exactly!

Offline ExZ

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2010, 09:28:27 AM »
Don't worry, This is just getting kids used to it...... You know, So your job can write you up for "improper behavior" too.

Offline archer

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2010, 10:58:58 AM »
I just read that the school claims it only turns on the camera for laptops reports lost or stolen... Yeah right....

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2010, 11:25:43 AM »
Its probably already happening,  I had the "privilege" of working on the army side of the joint Army/NSA Intercept System (It wasn't called Echelon back then but thats what they call the system now) (I cracked jokes about going to work at the ANIS {pronounced Anus} I thought it was a funnier then Janis as the workers called it but I digress) for a couple of weeks while I was Stationed at Ft Lewis.  (I was in Communication and we were doing some TCP/IP communications testing, and I was working with the Army Experimentation site for a while and thats how I ended up in the ANIS (Still makes me smile :) )  I Worked on some SAT/TCP-IP configurations and testing some communications and encryption equipment, (Really Cool self contained briefcase communications boxes that combined real time video with tactical data and command and control with a single built in Sat uplink, or MSE communications connection via radio or wire).  Pretty cools stuff back in the day, (Now your cell phone can do the same thing LOL)  I don't think the boxes ever went to production, advances in computing made them obsolete too fast.

This was shortly after the army had gone full conversion to MSE equipment (From 90 to 92 for full deployment if my memory serves me right).

They had 2 Cray machines to do all the processing, I believe the processor count 122 in the primary and 64 in the secondary.  From what we learned while we were there, if it traveled via any digital (and most analog at the time, this was back in 1992), it was processed and scanned for keywords, sounds, words and whatever other wizardry they were doing at the time.

Considering this was 1992 technology, I couldn't image the power of modern parallel system scanning TCP/IP traffic (Which makes up much higher percentage of communications than it did back in late 80's early 90's).  But needless to say, if your on the grid in any way shape or form i'm betting someone has a backdoor or key via "Gubmint" directive and will know if they want to.

Offline Dylboz

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2010, 05:41:14 PM »
Big Brother's telescreens are REAL!!!

Offline Truik

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Offline theadob

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2010, 12:46:29 AM »
if the laptop was in the kids room when they were changing clothes, you could get the Feds to arrest school officials for collecting kiddie porn.  Talk about a liability.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2010, 07:27:48 AM »
Looks like the FBI is investigating the case.

Story here


Offline kiteflyer

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2010, 03:21:03 PM »

 Yep, I suspect there are secret back doors for all software out there so the government can spy on anyone using a computer.

                     kiteflyer

        http://www.hermann-uwe.de/blog/how-to-detect-and-defeat-hardware-backdoors-and-wiretaps



Big Brother's telescreens are REAL!!!

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2010, 01:14:14 PM »
This is good stuff -- a couple of bright hackers doing serious investigative journalism:

Stryde Hax blog: The Spy at Harriton High

Porkmeal

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2010, 01:48:04 PM »
This is good stuff -- a couple of bright hackers doing serious investigative journalism:

Stryde Hax blog: The Spy at Harriton High


Nice find, Mr. Bill.  Thanks for posting. 

Offline Truik

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2010, 03:43:07 PM »
My web cam faces the wall behind my monitor and my studio mic has all the levels turned down to zero.

 :)


Offline ExZ

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2010, 04:04:33 PM »
My web cam faces the wall behind my monitor and my studio mic has all the levels turned down to zero.

 :)



Ha, My webcam and mic lay broken in a pile of junk six feet from me..... Let them try to spy on me now.  >:(

Offline Who...me?

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2010, 04:09:26 PM »
My web cam faces the wall behind my monitor and my studio mic has all the levels turned down to zero.

 :)



You should take a pic of a dogs butt hole and hang it on that wall.

Offline archer

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2010, 04:12:09 PM »
You should take a pic of a dogs butt hole and hang it on that wall.
as it's doing it's business...

Offline Chair-Force

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2010, 05:47:26 PM »
That school is about a mile or two from my home. The local media crews battle for reporting space in front of the school.

Offline ExZ

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2010, 11:06:58 AM »
Check this video out as they spy on kids while they're in class. Creepy.

School Spy on Kids with Laptops and Snap Pics with Web Cam

Quote
A few weeks ago, Frontline premiered a documentary called "Digital Nation". In one segment, the vice-principle of Intermediate School 339, Bronx, NY, Dan Ackerman, demonstrates how he "remotely monitors" the students' laptops for "inappropriate use". (his demonstration begins at 4:36)

He says "They don't even realize we are watching," "I always like to mess with them and take a picture," and "9 times out of 10, THEY DUCK OUT OF THE WAY."

[...snip...] For more, see the full article via the link below.

edited by Nadir_E, in accordance with DMCA rules and regulations


The shocking thing about this is that the privacy concerns were not even mentioned in the Frontline documentary!

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/02/25/school-administrator.html

There is a 9 minute video at that link.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2010, 08:36:10 AM by Nadir_E »

Son_of_the_Republic

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2010, 03:40:58 PM »
School Spy Laptops “Took Thousands Of Photos” Of Students In Homes

Quote
Startling new evidence has emerged in the ongoing case of the Lower Merion school district in Philadelphia accused of spying on students in their homes via school issued laptops.

The lawyer for the family of the student whose school issued computer was allegedly remotely accessed while in his home, says that thousands of images were taken, including photographs of other students in their homes, web sites they visited, and excerpts of their online chats

 http://www.prisonplanet.com/school-spy-laptops-took-thousands-of-photos-of-students-in-homes.html

SnugInMyPod

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Re: Pa. school used webcams to spy on students
« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2010, 07:49:41 PM »
Fellow Survivalists,

"Well, Johnny, get up your chore money.  We're getting  you your own laptop...as well as homeschooling you too."

 :)