I was shocked to learn that a school near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has been accused of cyber-spying on their students via the web cam in their Macbooks. This is a school whose district officials had bragged that they had given all 2,3000 of their high school students these laptops to "ensure that all students have 24/7 access to school-based resources."
Apparently some of those same School Officials had 24/7 access to the students as well in the form of web cam spying.
The Superintendent of the school district has since admitted that they do have the ability to spy via those web cams - in other words they can remotely activate the web cam on the sly allowing them to see a live image of whatever is going on in front of that camera as long as the computer is turned on. However the Superintendent of the School District is claiming that this 'feature' was for security purposes only - that it was to be used in case of computer theft.
Honestly, that is the lamest thing I've ever heard! Why didn't they instead keep the MAC addresses of those machines and track those electronically if the machine went missing?? I am incensed to think that anyone would believe that remote access to a web cam was good idea!! When would it EVER be okay to turn a computer that you are giving to children into a spying device that allows you to peek at them in their private quarters?
Ignorance is no excuse. I believe that most of the officials of the School District honestly believed that the spying 'feature' would never be used except in case of 'emergency' or theft. Still how could they ever approve this? Did they ever even consider how this system could be abused?
And what IT professional recommend such a thing? As IT professionals we all know that we have the ability to spy on people if we really wanted too. And some of the more deviant of us do. But for the most part folks in the IT industry are very careful to police themselves and maintain a high level of personal integrity when it comes to this kind of thing. Or maybe I'm dreaming. *sigh*
Parents only learned about the cyber-spying machines that had infiltrated their homes when an Assistant Principle called a student on the carpet for 'improper behavior' at his home.
This article from the Philadelphia News explains:
They were spying, in private homes!!! This should increase the blood pressure of every one of us who believes in the US Constitution and in our rights to fundamental freedoms.
The family first learned of the embedded webcams on Nov. 11, when Harriton High's Assistant Principal Lindy Matsko reprimanded Blake Robbins for "improper behavior in his home," according to the lawsuit. Matsko cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam on the boy's school-issued laptop.
The lawsuit does not specify why the photograph was objectionable.
And what exactly were those pictures of? That's the really frightening thing...
Honestly I am incensed over this issue and as far as I'm concern someone had better go to jail over this issue, including the IT 'pro' that set it up. It's not only wrong, it's just plain stupid.