High school uses notebook webcams to spy on students

By Matthew ยท 51 replies
Feb 19, 2010
  1. If the school district captured children naked via the web cams, can anyone say child pornography?
  2. Quite honestly, if my computer's camera light turn on i would get a bit freaked out and tape something over it.
  3. 0n1n3

    0n1n3 TS Rookie Posts: 17

    That is absurd. I don't care how you dress it up logically, that is an invasion of privacy and no teacher has that level of control over a student or child for any reason. I don't care if you think the kid is a suspected terrorist. Teachers are not cops and do not follow the same rules as the government. That person should be fired and this incident should be permanently marked on their record. Teachers are, after all, paid by taxes. Thus they too can be fired since they answer to the people, and the people do not answer to them. They were never in their lives given such authority over children.

    And since there was no disclaimer stating that they would use the PCs for this reason when they were "given" to the children, then if those were my kids I would press charges for the fullest extent the law would allow me.

    But I digress, I would not put my children, if I indeed had any children, in public schooling. They would be privately schooled or home schooled, and this is the reason why.

    Those laptops should be seized.
  4. foreverzero89

    foreverzero89 TS Enthusiast Posts: 217

    maybe they just don't notice the light. not like its super bright, especially wen you are concentrating on something.
  5. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,150   +916

    oow dear people... oow dear. I'm reading all these comments and some of them are just ridiculous!

    Dude! shut up! you are very narrow minded. We deal with things a lot worse than this everyday! fair enough I don't read much about stories like this but I just don't think a school would do this without any warning to the child or parents.

    Ha ha! this one made me chuckle! No Offence, but CALM DOWN LOVE! jesus! anyway you may have a valid point in saying that they were "given no disclaimer" but again I highly doubt this. If so then no one should be sued no one should lose a job. Instead the school should just be forced to take the software off?

    I work for an IT services company here in Britain and I get a thing called logmein! which if you don't know means I can remote control any computer I want with the user knowing. But you would not believe the things I have seen on some users computers! which if I wanted could easily download to my machine.

    But I don't, do you know why? because it has nothing to do with me! I am there to fix the issue not to look at naked pictures of the user or their ilegal Child porn collection.

    In this particular instance this admin should have only used the camera to make sure it was being used by the correct user and thats it! shouldn't have reported that the user was taking "Pills" which were actually sweets.

    At the end of the day the admin f*cked up and won't do it again. Period! Its school property laptops therefore the school can do anything with them anyway.
  6. foreverzero89

    foreverzero89 TS Enthusiast Posts: 217

    but it did happen, and what are the "worse" things "we" deal with everyday?
  7. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,150   +916

    Well we deal with terrorists, bombings, killers, rapists, child abusers... the list is endless! so why make such a big deal out of this? no one got hurt, no one got vialated in any major or even minor way. Its totally irrational to just want to sue a school which was paid from your taxes anyway because they where concerned that one of there pupils may have been taking some kind of pill?

    Can you not see that it was stupid and a mistake but the whole situation is being treated by everyone who reads this story, worse than a killing down your local high street?!

    Fair enough maybe the school shouldn't be able to just blindly switch the camera on but at least its for fair reasons. They're not good enough reasons but at least they mean't well.

    I just think its a bit unfair that your looking at this as a proper major thing yet i bet if someone was killed within 10 miles of your house wouldn't be as concerned as you are with this stupid mistake by a school admin?!

    (and yes the last bit was aimed at foreverzero89)
  8. foreverzero89

    foreverzero89 TS Enthusiast Posts: 217

    if your friend lent you a laptop then used it to spy on you in your own home would you be friend with them any more? no you wouldn't. there were many violations here here: of trust, of the law, and of basic human decency. if stuff like this is allowed to happen at schools, a place where trust is BIG, then where does it stop? this cannot be allowed to continue.

    using "terrorists" as an excuse to violate my, and anyone else, rights is a weak argument at best. this can also be as form of child abuse as well. anyone that is allowed to take candid pictures of minors in their bedrooms should be in jail.

    if your 15 year-old son or daughter was "caught" by the school district doing something in her room would you be furious? yes, you would. maybe you should think about that before you try to defend what is going on here.

    this can very well lead to something bigger than just the school board being peeping toms.
  9. Matt and to all who are missing the point alltogether... Because the School provided the laptop - it is ok??

    Who do think provided the gym showers and bathrooms, why not a place a pinhole camera there?? After all it is school property?

    C'mon people - wake up!
  10. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,150   +916

    If a friend "gave" me a laptop I would expect them to do something as stupid (and funny) as install a piece of software thats activates the camera! But I wouldn't stop being friends with them!? your taking this way to far.

    I have never trusted a school, ever. Who does? I trust they'll teach me to write talk and learn maths and science but I would never actually trust them with my records or giving me a laptop? I would never trust a computer that was given to me. Only a computer I have brought, rebuilt and secured my own way would I trust.

    When ever I'm at work and logon to someones machine I take every step possible to make sure i'm not going to get a virus on my machine or anything like that from this other machine because its not trusted. And it stops when the admin does actually have pictures of users naked hidden in a folder on the network or has a background of being a peado or been in jail before. then it should be taken seriously and delt with in a harsh manner.

    But the admin is not a perv or anything like that. Its unfair to treat him like one.

    "if your 15 year-old son or daughter was "caught" by the school district doing something in her room would you be furious? yes, you would." - again how do you know I would be? all depends on the situation. If it was a dodgy school with low funding then they won't be giving laptops to pupils. A decent school with funding to do such a thing like give pupils laptops to use then I wouldn't go mad as a first reaction like you have. I would ask how they know and how they found there information and aquired the picture. I would then ask for a full investigation on the IT team at the school to make sure they are not doing aything other than monitoring to check its the right user. I would then do nothing more if my findings were Adequate and I was satisfied that they really were just making sure that the laptop had not been stolen and were concerned about my son/daughters well being when they thought it was pills. I would be happy about it but I wouldn't be as annoyed as you appear to be.
  11. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,150   +916

    Please note I meant I wouldn't be happy about it.
  12. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,150   +916

    Just been reading more into this and again they did break some rules so I can see why the parents are angry but I think they are reacting a little too harshly to the whole situation. as what the school has stated. It was only a security system thats only activated if the laptop is reported lost stolen or missing.

  13. xempler

    xempler TS Rookie Posts: 24

    This is so wrong it boggles the mind especially since it involves children. At the very least parents should of been notified of this before it was issued to the kids.

    And I have no idea what a spycam on a laptop has to do with locating it if it was missing or stolen. You would install a GPS chip in it for that...so that excuse is bull.

    This school board is run by morons in my opinion and deserved to be sued. I would be mad as hell if this happened to me.
  14. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,495

    I think alot of people are missing the point.

    Why is a public school district issuing laptop for high school use? We have school that are firing teachers and cutting activities and yet this school district is giving students macbooks. Spying is wrong, but why is no one upset about that?
  15. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,136   +131

    I agree with you 100%. The only reason software such as this was created is so companies or individuals could track their laptop if it is stolen. There is no reason whatsoever, if the laptop hasn't been reported stolen, for a school administrator to activate it.

    I've checked logs on literally thousands of computers for signs of misuse within my company, and if I found any, only needed to check the login used to verify the identity of the person abusing their priveledges. The person whose login was active at the time is the person responsible, period. I didn't need a camera to verify that Mattfrompa.

    Burty, you're wrong on so many levels I don't even know what to say. When dealing with minor children, under the age of 18 and off school property, the school has absolutely NO right to activate a camera on the laptop unless it has been reported stolen by that student, PERIOD.
  16. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,136   +131

    What really blows my mind more than anything though, is that the school, over a 2 year period, purchased 2,620 laptops at $1000 each. That's $2,620,000 that could have been spent on hiring decent teachers (most high school teachers today are borderline retarded), new/updated textbooks, or making improvements to the school itself (like building a new library). Just another example of misappropriated funds.

    It's also surprising that they paid $1000 a pop for the laptops when a $300 laptop from Walmart could easily accomplish any academic task the student might need. It seems like school districts are more interested in who has the leading technology nowadays, rather than who has the highest academic standards.
  17. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,150   +916

    I'm only 17 and I'm 18 in july. unless your 14 or younger its not as serious as everyone makes out to be. I left school and did an intensive college course now been working for a good IT support company for over a year now. I have been pulling appart computers since I was in year 8.

    Stop treating anyone under 18 as minor children. i'm not 18 yet I refuse to be treated like some stupid little kid.
  18. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,495

    Well under the law, if even you are the exception, you are still a minor. There is really no arguing that. And the fact that the cameras were activated on minors not only breaches alot of privacy laws, in dabbles (potentially) in child "porn"
  19. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,136   +131

    Relax. Regardless of how you feel, according to the law you're still a minor. This isn't about how long you, or anyone else, has been pulling apart computers. I've been in IT for years myself, but the point is moot. Any IT administrator worth their salt knows there are much less intrusive and equally effective ways of tracking a user's activity without invading their privacy, than a stealth program that activates a webcam.

    This is about right or wrong, and spying on students at home regardless of their age or the intent, is wrong.
  20. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,150   +916

    Finally! someone with an arguement that seems correct! its true, an admin worth his salt should know better ways.

    And I think the Law is wrong! When you leave school you should become an adult. I'm fed up of not being able to own a visa card or go into a bank and talk about investments and stuff. I earn the same wage as some of the older people and work just as hard, hell i've been promoted once already and I've got one MCP already! I just think its unfair for the ones who want to get on out of school still get treated the same as "minors".
  21. foreverzero89

    foreverzero89 TS Enthusiast Posts: 217

    this explains your lack of foresight and juvenile thinking. you are young inexperienced and for a lack of a better term, stupid. it is not until you get MUCH older that you realize that.

    this goes beyond just trying to find a missing laptop, this was done purposely. to what purpose? i can't say for sure, but this was a government funded project so i'm speculating that it was some kind of testbed for use on a wider scale, just to see how the people think about this sort of thing . obviously it blew up in their faces.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,038   +2,559

    Right, the citizens of the township will sue their own property taxes to double what they are now, and the laywers will pocket the money.

    Old school, this is called, "cutting off your nose to spite your face".
  23. foreverzero89

    foreverzero89 TS Enthusiast Posts: 217

    also on the arugement that if they signed a terms of service document, if that TOS "lets" them do something illeagl, then the contract is null and void.
  24. megrawab

    megrawab TS Rookie Posts: 93

    Wahaha.. I totally agree with the previous comments... Its their right to privacy. Why should they spy them while they can teach them the right thing to do with their notebooks.

    I saw one comment of a guest here and he said: "If the school district captured children naked via the web cams, can anyone say child pornography? "
    ---> Lol sounds funny but he has a point!!!...
  25. bearspencer

    bearspencer TS Rookie

    "If the school district captured children naked via the web cams, can anyone say child pornography? "
    ---> Lol sounds funny but he has a point!!!...

    Especially when prosecutors have charged underaged teens with child pornography felonies for sexting pictures of themselves to others
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