A government school in Pennsylvania used cameras and microphones on laptops issued to students to locate missing laptops and, oh by the way, to also monitor students. Yes, the “telescreen” devices from the book 1984 have arrived in 2010. Parents of a monitored student have sued the school after receiving a photo of their son engaging in what the school considered to be inappropriate behavior.
The school has turned off the monitoring program and students, taking no chances, have taped over the webcams and the microphones. The FBI will investigate to see if the school broke federal law.
Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa., filed the lawsuit. In their lawsuit, they asked the judge “to issue a restraining order preventing the district from remotely activating the webcams on student notebooks. They also requested that the judge block the district from recalling the laptops from students, saying that they believe school officials will then wipe the MacBooks’ hard drives to delete evidence of any camera activation.”
The school has since admitted to using the cameras and microphones to located missing laptops. However, the parents claimed the laptop was not reported missing at the time.
On the TV Program The Early Show, the student said the principal accused him of selling drugs and taking pills. So now there’sÂ a motive for the principal.
It’s no surprise that an official with such control over students would try to grab more control by monitoring students at home. If the state can take someone’s children for eight hours a day, I guess these officials figured camera monitoring was less offensive – which it is.
Faced with losing their Orwellian surveillance device, the school is probably going to ask the state government to proceed to the next logical step of forced schooling and require students to become full-time boarders at the school. Or maybe take an intermediate step and require students to stay at the school/prison until 9 or 10 p.m., at least until the local curfew kicks in.
Read a Computer World article.
Read a CBS News article.