School Laptop Spying Case Just Keeps Getting Creepier


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You’ve probably heard by now about the school district in Pennsylvania that was using webcams in school-issued laptops to spy on students. And they might never have known except for one observant administrator who saw a student engaging in behavior mistaken for pill-popping and confronted him – at which point it was revealed that those “pills” were actually candy. Unsurprisingly, the student’s parents were wondering how the school knew about something that had happened in his house – which is when it all came tumbling down.

The school still maintains that the remote-webcam-activation was actually a “security feature” intended to help them recover lost or stolen laptops. Of course, the student in question didn’t have a lost or stolen laptop – just one he’d failed to pay the $55 security deposit for.

But now there’s a lawsuit, which means there’s discovery, and a motion filed by the students’ attorney last week claims that the school might have thousands of images collected by the school, many of which featured students who did not have lost or stolen (or uninsured) laptops. And according to the motion, “There were numerous webcam pictures of Blake and other members of his family, including pictures of Blake partially undressed and of Blake sleeping.” Which is just, you know, kind of creepy.

The motion itself is an attempt to get to the personal computers of school technology coordinator Carol Cafiero, who recently took the Fifth during a deposition. She was one of a very few administrators able to access the images, and the students’ attorney is calling her a “voyeur” – largely because of an email exchange between her and a colleague, who noted that seeing the webcam footage was kind of like a “soap opera” – to which Cafiero replied, “I know, I love it!”

I wrote some time ago about the iPhone tracking that some schools in Japan were implementing and noted the similarities to Cory Doctorow’s science fiction novel Little Brother.  I think the comparison is even more apt here, and I think a lot of people are unsettled by the situation.  The post from Threat Level on this subject included with permission one of the images that a laptop recorded, of a student sleeping. The schools might have seemed like Santa Claus, giving away laptops for free… but now they see you when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re awake, they know if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

[Image Source: megathud (CC)]







21 Responses to School Laptop Spying Case Just Keeps Getting Creepier

  1. Actually, if the kids were ANYTHING but completely and fully clothed, the school and everyone involved in the surveilance program is at high risk for ending up on the same registered sex-offender lists that other pedophiles are on. As such, they would no longer be able to practice in the educational field or hold any further positions of public trust. God I hope these fuckers fry

  2. Actually, if the kids were ANYTHING but completely and fully clothed, the school and everyone involved in the surveilance program is at high risk for ending up on the same registered sex-offender lists that other pedophiles are on. As such, they would no longer be able to practice in the educational field or hold any further positions of public trust. God I hope these fuckers fry

  3. That’s really creepy. I know that there are times when I would not want someone watching me through my webcam.

  4. That's really creepy. I know that there are times when I would not want someone watching me through my webcam.

  5. How did the surveillance work? Changing or reinstalling the OS should take care of it if it’s just software (which seems by far the most likely alternative) If it’s hard coded into the webcam to go directly through the wifi router, then that is many kinds of fucked up. Either way, teaching those kids about Linux could be very helpful to them.

    • If it is a rootkit or a bootkit, or a combination of the two, reinstalling the OS won’t make a difference. Even a reformat won’t necessarily fix the problem if the Partition is hidden or is located within the hardware of the camera itself. Regardless, children should not be expected to completely reformat a laptop just to avoid being spied on.

      Also, considering this is a Public school… doesn’t this mean that Local, State, and Federal Tax dollars are essentially paying these people to sit up at night and watch children get changed?

  6. How did the surveillance work? Changing or reinstalling the OS should take care of it if it's just software (which seems by far the most likely alternative) If it's hard coded into the webcam to go directly through the wifi router, then that is many kinds of fucked up. Either way, teaching those kids about Linux could be very helpful to them.

    • If it is a rootkit or a bootkit, or a combination of the two, reinstalling the OS won't make a difference. Even a reformat won't necessarily fix the problem if the Partition is hidden or is located within the hardware of the camera itself. Regardless, children should not be expected to completely reformat a laptop just to avoid being spied on.

      Also, considering this is a Public school… doesn't this mean that Local, State, and Federal Tax dollars are essentially paying these people to sit up at night and watch children get changed?

  7. Old hags spying on minor boys is nothing to be surprised at; boys/men reach their peak sexually between the ages of 18 and 25. Women’s sexual peaks occur much later, around 35-40.

  8. Old hags spying on minor boys is nothing to be surprised at; boys/men reach their peak sexually between the ages of 18 and 25. Women's sexual peaks occur much later, around 35-40.

  9. The day I get a school issued laptop (Which probably won’t happen because I’ve never heard of that from my area, and I already have a couple laptops of my own) I will be sure to put a piece of tape on the web cam.

  10. The day I get a school issued laptop (Which probably won't happen because I've never heard of that from my area, and I already have a couple laptops of my own) I will be sure to put a piece of tape on the web cam.

  11. Since the American Government is in the habit of prosecuting children for taking their own naked pictures, and other children have been prosecuted in Pennsylvania just for having been sent pictures of other students, and putting the lot of them on Sex Offender lists simply because of the literal wording of the laws… I really hope these school administrators face the same treatment for having partially undressed photos of children. The fact that there have yet to be a criminal prosecution, yet they continue to prosecute children, is just proof to me that they don’t even care about children anymore.

  12. Since the American Government is in the habit of prosecuting children for taking their own naked pictures, and other children have been prosecuted in Pennsylvania just for having been sent pictures of other students, and putting the lot of them on Sex Offender lists simply because of the literal wording of the laws… I really hope these school administrators face the same treatment for having partially undressed photos of children. The fact that there have yet to be a criminal prosecution, yet they continue to prosecute children, is just proof to me that they don't even care about children anymore.

  13. ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! disgusting & 2 think my school is considering getting laptops.

  14. ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! disgusting & 2 think my school is considering getting laptops.