If this story is true, someone needs time in jail to think about civic responsibility:
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court, [a Pennsylvania] family said the school's assistant principal had confronted their son, told him he had "engaged in improper behavior in [his] home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in [his] personal laptop issued by the school district."
The suit contends the Lower Merion School District, one of the most prosperous and highest-achieving in the state, had the ability to turn on students' webcams and illegally invade their privacy.
The suit says that in November, assistant principal Lynn Matsko called in sophomore Blake Robbins and told him that he had "engaged in improper behavior in his home," and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam in his school-issued laptop.
Matsko later told Robbins' father, Michael, that the district "could remotely activate the webcam contained in a student's personal laptop . . . at any time it chose and to view and capture whatever images were in front of the webcam" without the knowledge or approval of the laptop's users, the suit says.
A security professional in New York has investigated the technical claims and found them convincing. He also expanded on the original news story with some circumstantial evidence:
The truly amazing part of this story is what's coming out from comments from the students themselves. Some of the interesting points:
- Possession of a monitored Macbook was required for classes
- Possession of an unmonitored personal computer was forbidden and would be confiscated
- Disabling the camera was impossible
- Jailbreaking a school laptop in order to secure it or monitor it against intrusion was an offense which merited expulsion
When I spoke at MIT about the wealth of electronic evidence I came across regarding Chinese gymnasts, I used the phrase "compulsory transparency". I never thought I would be using the phrase to describe America, especially so soon, but that appears to be exactly the case.
I can't wait to see how this turns out.