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  • School Uses MacBooks to Spy On Kids


    A lawsuit has been filed against a suburban Philadelphia school district accusing administrators of remotely activating the iSight cameras in school-provided MacBooks to spy on students in their homes. The school claims that it used the cameras only to determine the location of lost or stolen MacBooks, but one student was accused of selling drugs and shown a still picture taken from his iSight as evidence against him. The FBI is investigating the school.

    About 1,800 students at the Lower Merion High School (where Kobe Bryant played basketball in the 90s) and Harriton High School across town were all issued MacBooks as part of a state and federally funded "one-to-one" laptop program. Student Blake Robbins was called into the Harriton High School principal's office last November and accused of "improper behavior in his home." He was shown an image that he was told had been taken by his notebook's embedded camera. The student's parents, Michael and Holly Robbins, then went to the assistant principal and complained that the school had never told them that the camera could be activated remotely. The assistant principal told the boy's father that the school claimed the right to turn on the iSight camera "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," according to the lawsuit.

    After the spying was revealed, the school acknowledged that it had activated students' cameras 42 times over a 14-month period, but insisted that each time it was done it was merely an attempt to locate a stolen or missing MacBook. The Robbins family accuses the school district of violating the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution as well as the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, and the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act. They are attempting to make the lawsuit a class action so that more of the 1,800 students can join in the lawsuit, which asks for unspecified monetary damages.

    The school has not released any images or described what sorts of activities were photographed, but shocked students are upset about the invasion of their privacy and wondering wht they might have been seen doing. One girl says that she kept her MacBook open at all times, including when she was getting dressed and showering, and is worried that the camera might have been activated on her MacBook at those times.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: School Uses MacBooks to Spy On Kids started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 61 Comments
    1. clikzip's Avatar
      clikzip -
      Invasion of privacy, But it would be interesting to know what all they caught on the iSight that students were doing.
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Quote Originally Posted by lolcats1 View Post
      Two things you need to understand here.

      1. privacy is not a constitutional right, you have the anti-federalists to thanks for that.
      One thing you need to understand here.

      1. It is a constitutional right. It's called the 4th Amendment you idiot. This is illegal search and seizure. I'll even quote it for you since you obviously have no clue what your inalienable rights are.

      Quote Originally Posted by 4th Amendment View Post
      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
      There were no oaths, there were no search warrants, there was nothing in the agreements signed when the laptop was issued to the student saying that the school system could activate the cameras and watch what students were doing. They did exactly that and violated both the signed agreement and the students 4th Amendment rights.

      The fact that people like you are out there and have no clue what your rights are is more scary than this whole story. I sure hope you don't go around telling anyone that they have no right to be secure in their privacy behind their own doors. Just because legislation like the Patriot Act violate every single right you have doesn't mean you don't have them. Either you didn't pay attention in school, or you haven't studied this subject yet.

      Quote Originally Posted by clikzip View Post
      Invasion of privacy, But it would be interesting to know what all they caught on the iSight that students were doing.
      No it wouldn't. Would you like someone to know what is going on in your home any time they feel like looking? Didn't think so. What's more interesting is who the f*ck did this, approved it, and what amount of jail time they'll get.

      Here's the lawsuit if anyone wants to read it.
    1. javiert30's Avatar
      javiert30 -
      Another thing, how you know if that person that is looking at them is not a pervert. If the FBI catch somebody with child porn he is a sexual offender but if he spy a child or pre teen and he can see him or her naked what's that?
    1. SugarMouth's Avatar
      SugarMouth -
      That is entirely out of line! This article pisses me off!
    1. ZOMGVTEK's Avatar
      ZOMGVTEK -
      Quote Originally Posted by goodgod2 View Post
      I think you didn't read the article carefully, the student said they didn't know about the spying, who knows maybe they did know, and about the light.... its called spying, you think that the school is that stupid to not make a program that work with the light off?
      I was merely suggesting that if my school gave me a laptop that had a webcam, I would likely cover it with a sticker.

      There is too much questionable stuff going on in most schools... I would view them handing laptops out as a chance to spy on every student, not simply a 'nice' gesture.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      yeah i saw this on the news a couple of days ago. there is nothing given away for free. those bastardly pedophiles will burn.
    1. ajl917's Avatar
      ajl917 -
      Quote Originally Posted by javiert30 View Post
      Another thing, how you know if that person that is looking at them is not a pervert. If the FBI catch somebody with child porn he is a sexual offender but if he spy a child or pre teen and he can see him or her naked what's that?
      Im not lawyer, but I would assume the videos were probably saved somewhere and authorities will obtain them as part of the case. Right? If so, any inappropriate videos could really turn this case from invasion of privacy catching kids with drugs or alcohol to children changing or other stuff taking this to another level...
    1. DeltaFX's Avatar
      DeltaFX -
      wow, okay yeah invasion of privacy but seriously the only reason they are fighting this in court is because they got caught selling drugs, if you arent doing anything wrong who gives a shiza? I know the school was in the wrong too because they didnt have any warrants etc. but i think it should still be credible evidence to send the drugee kid to jail, just like the ACORN chick that admitted to killing her husband on tape, she shouldve been sentenced but the evidence wasnt "credible". its too easy for criminals to get away with stuff we need a tougher beefed up version of the patriot act, and like i said if you arent doing anything wrong, guess what??? you dont have to worry!
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ajl917 View Post
      any inappropriate videos could really turn this case from invasion of privacy catching kids with drugs or alcohol to children changing or other stuff taking this to another level...
      nah dude who smokes in front of their macbook? i sure as hell don't.

      he was obviously pleasuring himself whilst watching asian porn. of the tentacle variety.
    1. RKirk7741's Avatar
      RKirk7741 -
      At first, this one-to-one thing seemed amazing. Once I read this article, it became not so amazing..... (To simply state)
    1. SpIcYjOe's Avatar
      SpIcYjOe -
      this is totally crazy but i am curious tho. Usually now laptops have a small little LED light at the side of the webcam to indicate that the webcam is on right? Same goes to external webcam.

      Won't that be like a signal to the student that someone is accessing the laptop webcam?
    1. luvmytj's Avatar
      luvmytj -
      Quote Originally Posted by Melech518 View Post
      This is going on in private schools all over the country. I know for a fact that 3 major private schools in Tampa have spy software on their students iPhones, BlackBerry's, and Computers
      How does a school install software on a private phone... or are they giving students iPhones these days?
    1. Luppin's Avatar
      Luppin -
      I'm sure that there was some fine print in the agreement they signed regarding all this, the school would be stupid not to do so.
    1. Ichwohneinloche's Avatar
      Ichwohneinloche -
      Quote Originally Posted by lolcats1 View Post
      this is a private school. this has absolutely nothing to do with the government. ever seen a public school hand out macbooks?
      Actually there is a public school in either Texas or Arkansas that used their excess budget money to provide their students with macbooks. They also switched to using digital copies of their text books and getting rid of the hard copies. So essentially the students always have their text books in way less space then 1 normal textbook would take. So yes the said school is making a very futuristic move and it isn't a school that is funded by a bunch of overly rich parents who think their kids are too good to be with the rest of the population. Just my 2 cents.
    1. iMrBrett's Avatar
      iMrBrett -
      how does turning on the camera tell them the location.

      i could see it now...."alright i can see a night stand, tv, some clothes, oh i know who that is that is jonny boys shirt, jonny boy must have the stolen ipod." i mean come on does it really take turning on the camera to active a GPS location or what cause i dot see how this helps "finding a stolen laptop"
    1. DeltaFX's Avatar
      DeltaFX -
      @ Rota. Yeah its against the 4th ammendment for sure, the kid will get off free and the school will pay the price. I was just tryin to say even if it was an unconstitutional intrusion of privacy the kid should still face the consequences of selling drugs, and the only reason you would want to defend the kids crime is if youre a criminal yourself,
      anyways on a lighter note
      @ bdcarp0 lol thats so true, nice illustration.
    1. M4tt Dam0n's Avatar
      M4tt Dam0n -
      lmao pedo teachers
    1. iLaw-One's Avatar
      iLaw-One -
      Just putting tape over the camera solves the issue in less than 5 secs...
    1. gotem3303's Avatar
      gotem3303 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DeltaFX View Post
      wow, okay yeah invasion of privacy but seriously the only reason they are fighting this in court is because they got caught selling drugs, if you arent doing anything wrong who gives a shiza? I know the school was in the wrong too because they didnt have any warrants etc. but i think it should still be credible evidence to send the drugee kid to jail, just like the ACORN chick that admitted to killing her husband on tape, she shouldve been sentenced but the evidence wasnt "credible". its too easy for criminals to get away with stuff we need a tougher beefed up version of the patriot act, and like i said if you arent doing anything wrong, guess what??? you dont have to worry!
      I get what your saying, because most of the time when people complain about having cameras at intersections and stuff they shouldnt worry if they arent speeding or whatever. You're in a public place, you shouldnt expect any sort of privacy. Got it.

      But dude this is them looking at you, when you dont know about it, while your in your room. Imagine thats your daughter with the laptop and you find out some fat tech guy at the school has been randomly turning the cameras on and watching her change and stuff. I would be heated.

      Plus, if Im on http://www.htc.com/europe/product/hd2 I dont wanna be taped wacking off!
    1. dhamien's Avatar
      dhamien -
      Quote Originally Posted by DeltaFX View Post
      wow, okay yeah invasion of privacy but seriously the only reason they are fighting this in court is because they got caught selling drugs, if you arent doing anything wrong who gives a shiza? I know the school was in the wrong too because they didnt have any warrants etc. but i think it should still be credible evidence to send the drugee kid to jail, just like the ACORN chick that admitted to killing her husband on tape, she shouldve been sentenced but the evidence wasnt "credible". its too easy for criminals to get away with stuff we need a tougher beefed up version of the patriot act, and like i said if you arent doing anything wrong, guess what??? you dont have to worry!
      Please tell me you're kidding and that you aren't actually this dumb.