If your child has a school-issued laptop, you may want to leave it closed whenever possible, or just cover up its built-in webcam. A family in Pennsylvania has accused their son’s school district of installing software on school-issued laptops that allows officials to spy on students at any time through the laptops’ webcams.
The lawsuit claims that the school district used a webcam shot as evidence of mysterious “improper behavior” at home on the part of the student. The high school’s vice president confirmed to the parents that the school district can remotely activate webcams to spy on students.
…the School District in fact has the ability to remotely activate the webcam contained in a students’ [sic] personal laptop computer issued by the School District 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.
Additionally, by virtue of the fact that the webcam can be remotely activated at any time by the School District, the webcam will capture anything happening in the room in which the laptop computer is located, regardless of whether the student is sitting at the computer and using it. Defendants have never disclosed to either the Plaintiffs [the family] or to the Class members [all other students and their families] that the School District has the ability to capture webcam images from any location in which the laptop computer is kept.
Is this for real, or is it the product of a misunderstanding between paranoid family and a technologically confused school administrator? We’ll keep you posted.
And we thought tech support spies were bad.
School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home [BoingBoing] (Thanks, GitEmSteveDave!)