Big Brother Is Watching You–Check Out the Webcam

Remember reading in George Orwell’s classic 1984 how television might be watching you? In reality televisions have not been adapted in such a manner but this is not needed with webcams. BoingBoing reports on how a school used webcams to spy on students in their own home:

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools’ administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins’s child was disciplined for “improper behavior in his home” and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don’t know about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I’m getting dressed, having private discussions with my family, and so on. The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students’ clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying.

What is amazing, beyond the invasion of privacy, is that the school officials apparently did not even think they were doing anything wrong as they demonstrated their actions in using the webcam pictures as evidence.

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