A Pennsylvania school is accused of a remarkably abusive intrusion into the lives of its students. Papers in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, state that the laptops given to high-school students were equipped with webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools’ administrators. The lawsuit claims that officials not only activated the surveillance capability but disciplined young Robbins for “improper behavior in his home.” The Vice Principal reportedly used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence.
If it is true that school officials used such computers to take pictures of students at home, it is worthy of an investigation by the state. We are losing what little privacy remains in our society without a whimper of objection or concern.
School officials insists that the webcam was only used on missing computers, here.
The school has admitted to having the surveillance capability added to the computers, here.
The allegations in the case represent the realization of the fears of civil libertarians over the increasing encroachment of schools into the lives of students — and the steady decline of privacy and free speech rights of students. Indeed, this was one of the primary objections of civil libertarians to the Sotomayor nomination, here. School officials appear emboldened (here) by a series of rulings that expand their powers, including (in my view) the wrongly decided ruling in Morse v. Frederick (the so-called Bong Hits for Jesus case), discussed here.
What is frightening is the thought of what type of citizens we are raising under the surveillance and draconian policies of these officials. Students are taught to live within a fishbowl and accept surveillance by the government.
Here is the lawsuit: Robbins
45 thoughts on “Pennsylvania School Accused of Equipping Computer with Surveillance Devices and Spying on Students At Home”
I am also not convinced that there are incentives for the government to allow a case about surveillance to actually play out, for many reasons.
hmmmm … food for thought
There is an update in this case.
U.S. ends webcam probe; no charges
As I wrote at the time, there would have been ample opportunity for anyone to destroy evidence that would have been sought by prosecutors. The government was extremely slow to move in this case. I am also not convinced that there are incentives for the government to allow a case about surveillance to actually play out, for many reasons.
It appears that not all parents are unhappy with the school spying on them. Some are objecting to the suit and be a part of the class action. The ACLU has filed an amicus brief
This is terrible!! What an unneccessary invasion of privacy!!
I can understand the use of locating missing laptops but there is far too much potential for perverts to mis-use them. If they are that concerned maybe they shouldn’t give the laptops out in the first place.
School agrees to not destroy evidence? Hmm, should we trust them on that one?
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