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