Parents: School Used Webcam To Spy On Our Kid At Home

from ars technica

School-issued laptops are becoming more and more common these days, but thanks to the action of one high school, students and parents might have second thoughts about bringing them home. 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 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.

Robbins’ father Michael supposedly confirmed with Matsko that the school has the ability to remotely activate the webcam “at any time it chose to view and capture whatever images were in front of the webcam.” Needless to say, Robbins’ parents were outraged at this development, as neither the school nor the district had told parents about this capability. As a result, the Robbins have filed a class-action lawsuit against the district, charging it with interception of electronic communications under the ECPA, theft of intellectual property under the CFAA, violations of the Stored Communications Act, violations of the Civil Rights Act, invasions of privacy, and violations of the Pennsylvania wiretapping and electronic surveillance act.

More here.

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One Response to Parents: School Used Webcam To Spy On Our Kid At Home

  1. Tyler Abline November 8, 2019 at 7:20 pm #

    If this story is true, the school and whichever individuals are responsible for this monitoring should be severely punished. The fact that the school monitored one of their students outside of school is unacceptable. That is an egregious violation of privacy, especially considering that the student is most likely a minor. School officials attempting to punish the student for something they did at home is an absolute joke and they need to be held accountable. The school has no right or reason to be monitoring their students outside of school and the parents have every right to be outraged. I’m baffled that anyone at the school even thought that this would be acceptable and the potential implications of monitoring anyone, much less minors without connect by a school are severe. The school needs to be made an example of as to ensure that the fact that schools can not monitor students outside of school is upheld.

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