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Student Sues School Over Secret Surveillance

Posted 2/19/2010 9:00 am by

webcam.jpg

Harriton High School is, by and large, a model school.  It’s well funded, thanks to being in wealthy and prestigious Philadelphia suburb Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, and is a forward-thinking, tech-savvy school that issues all its students laptop computers.  Therein lies the problem.  After assistant principal Lindy Matsko called tenth-grade student Blake Robbins into her office to discipline him for improper behavior at home, she cited as evidence webcam images captured by Blake’s school-issued computer.  Webcam images taken of Blake without his knowledge or consent.  As it turns out, school officials had access to every student’s laptop webcam and could observe the students at any time.

Of course, Blake’s parents Michael and Holly immediately, and wisely, filed a lawsuit.  This is so unlawful on so many levels, I’m not even sure where to begin.  Well, aside from the fact that these kids are mostly minors and this webcam snooping turns school officials into potential voyeurs and pederasts, for one.  Of course, the school deserves it for their stupidity in giving students laptops that could be accessed remotely by school officials, and by including webcams in the laptops.

If you’re not going to protect the students’ privacy, then at least cover your own behinds and avoid lawsuit bait.  What part of “secretly observing kids in the privacy of their own rooms” seemed like a good idea?  What the principal caught Blake doing is irrelevant; unless it was a murder or organizing a drug ring, the crime of spying is more damaging than anything the kid might have done.

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