School Uses Students' PCs To Spy on Them at Home: Updated

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[h1]School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home[/h1]
By Cory Doctorow at 11:49 PM February 17, 2010

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion SchoolDistrict (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in thewell-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activatedby the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy onstudents and even their families. The issue came to light when theRobbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" andthe Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. Thesuit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued withthese machines.

If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don'tknow about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I'mgetting 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 AVbugs is purely horrifying.

Schools are in an absolute panic about kids divulging too much online,worried about pedos and marketers and embarrassing photos that willhaunt you when you run for office or apply for a job in 10 years. Theytell kids to treat their personal details as though they were precious.

your privacy is worthless and you shouldn't try to protect it.

Update: The school district admits that student laptops were shipped with software for covertly activating their webcams, but denies wrongdoing.

*Scratches head*
 

rck2sactown

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@ "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."
and trying to say theres nothing wrong with it
 
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How you gonna discipline a kid for something he does in his own house? I'm tempted to call ducktales.
 
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wow.  i can't say it surprises me though.
this is why i install everything myself.  gotta know what's on your computer
 
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what kinda software is this ?

i wouldnt mind this for my daughters when they get older.
 
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Originally Posted by young dr0

what kinda software is this ?

i wouldnt mind this for my daughters when they get older.
I don't know of any software

but, all you need is a backdoor trojan to see whatever they do/take over their pc.

hacking days...good times
 
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Wow, isn't that a private school?

There has to be some constitutional rights violation$$$$. #justsayin
 
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I don't see a problem here just close the ##@%%#$ laptop if your so ##@%%#$ concerned about privacy or just give the laptop back.
 
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[h1]Software maker blasts 'vigilantism' in Pa. school spying case[/h1] [h2]Absolute Software will update its LANRev to disable camera feature[/h2]



The company selling the software used by aPennsylvania school district to allegedly spy on its students blastedwhat it called laptop theft-recovery "vigilantism" today.
AbsoluteSoftware said it dissuades users of theft-recovery software from actingon their own. "We discourage any customer from taking theft recoveryinto their own hands," said Stephen Midgley, the company's head ofmarketing, in an interview Monday. "That's best left in the hands ofprofessionals."

Midgley confirmed that Lower Merion SchoolDistrict of Ardmore, Pa. was running Absolute Manage, formerly known asLANRev, which Absolute Software acquired last December. The suburbanPhiladelphia school district purchased and deployed LANRev prior toAbsolute's acquisition, he said, noting that most school districts buythe software for power management features that let IT staff remotelypower down systems.

Calling LANRev a "legacy" product, Midgleyalso said that Absolute would ship an update in the next several weeksthat will permanently disable Theft Track, the name of the feature thatlets administrators switch on a laptop's camera to take photographs ofa potential thief after the computer is reported stolen. "It reallydoesn't serve any purpose," said Midgley of Theft Track.

Lastweek, Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa., on behalf of their16-year-old son Blake, sued Lower Merion, accusing it of spying on students and students' families using the iSight webcams in the MacBook laptops issued to each high school student in the district.

Accordingto the original complaint, Blake Robbins was accused by a Harriton HighSchool assistant principal of "improper behavior in his home" and showna photograph taken by his laptop as evidence. In an appearance on CBS'sEarly Show Saturday EditionRobbins said he was accused by the assistant principal of selling drugsand taking pills, but he claimed the pictures taken by his MacBook'scamera showed him eating candy.

Since the Robbins family filedtheir lawsuit last week, Lower Merion has announced it has disabled thecamera activation feature, denied that it turned on the cameras for anyreason other than to track lost or stolen laptops, and promised tocooperate with any law enforcement investigation.

In a follow-up motion last Friday, the Robbins asked U.S. District Court Judge Jan DuBois to issue a restraining order blocking the school district from activating the webcams, functionality the motion labeled "peeping tom technology."

AbsoluteSoftware is probably best known for its LoJack for Laptops, aconsumer-grade notebook recovery service, but it also sells theComputrace line to businesses and organizations.

All itstheft-recovery software relies on a different model than the formerLANRev, said Midgley. "We give no theft recovery tools to our [LoJackand Computrace] customers," he said. "The only truly proven model is amanaged service model."

We had a similar program in my computer tech class in HS. The teacher would use it to see if you were browsing the internet or doing something else you shouldnt be doing. If you got caught this blue background would come up notifitying you that the teacher saw what you were doing
 

kdawg

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Originally Posted by young dr0

what kinda software is this ?

i wouldnt mind this for my daughters when they get older.
You're sick.
 
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<warned> for name-calling and partially edited profanity.

Seriously? You couldn't see the sarcasm in that? And then you posted that? About a staff member?
 
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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.
  
 
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