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Lower Merion School's Report Says IT Dept. Did It, But Didn't Inhale

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the so-what's-a-few-snapshots-anyhow dept.

Privacy 232

PSandusky writes "A report issued by the Lower Merion School District's chosen law firm blames the district's IT department for the laptop webcam spying scandal. In particular, the report mentions lax IT policies and record-keeping as major problems that enabled the spying. Despite thousands of e-mails and images to the contrary, the report also maintains that no proof exists that anyone in IT viewed images captured by the webcams."

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Wow... (5, Insightful)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116176)

I sure hope those "IT Dept" folks have emails archived indicating the request to do this.

Otherwise...wow. I feel bad for them.

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116280)

Not only the request to do it, but the request to stop it.

I'm sure the school administrators requested for the access, but forgot to request for the access to be terminated once enough information was procured letting the pictures just pile up like emails in a discontinued email address.

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116282)

I sure hope those "IT Dept" folks have emails archived indicating the request to do this.

Otherwise...wow. I feel bad for them.

I don't feel bad for them at all. It is so clearly obvious to anyone with minimal common sense that this whole thing could go wrong in a variety of ways. If they didn't think there was anything wrong with what they were doing then they get what they deserve. If they didn't keep a paper trail to cover there asses then they've put themselves in a really bad position. Either way they should have seen some of this coming from day one.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117156)

As an IT worker in education, I can tell you that blaming administration is off limits. A couple of workers at my company reported pornography found on a higher up's computer, and ended up fired for it. At some places, you do your job and keep your mouth shut, or find somewhere else to work.

Re:Wow... (5, Insightful)

kenj0418 (230916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117320)

At some places, you do your job and keep your mouth shut, or find somewhere else to work.

If "do your job" involves surreptitiously photographing under-18 kids without their or their parents knowledge, then "find somewhere else to work" is the correct option.

Re:Wow... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117336)

You could always go public. You might still end up finding another job, but at least it will be more fun :-)

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117200)

Godwin's Law.

There, I said it.

Re:Wow... (5, Informative)

fava (513118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116328)

The report was written by the law firm that is defending the school district. Consequently it is attempting to spin everything in the most favourable light to the school district. Any attempt to pin the fault on rogue individuals in the IT department might just be an attempt to minimize liability.

I simply don't trust the report.

Re:Wow... (4, Interesting)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116474)

Especially considering the email that said they thought it was like watching "a little LMSD soap opera," [rhymeswithright.mu.nu] . While the statement could have been taken out of context("testing this is cool, this is like 'a little LMSD soap opera'"), it kind of implies they looked at something.

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116688)

it's kinda hard to say a kid might have done drugs and then later state you couldn't have possibly looked at the photos. It's contradictory for the defense. I'm guessing that Lower Marion doesn't want to accept that they are totally screwed.

Re:Wow... (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117350)

especially since the kid claims to have been confronted with the photo.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116618)

totally. the very fact that this laughable report was produced at all means that somebody somwhere high up in that school board is fucking BRICKING IT big time

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116392)

Unless the IT department personnel have copies of email threads which include them vehemently opposing this policy, I have little sympathy for them. This sort of spying is highly unethical, and an IT department should, ideally, refuse to honor the request. Realistically, I can see people who depend on that job doing it, but I would expect them to do whatever they could to dissuade the school district from doing it first, and maybe anonymously whistleblowing to the local newspaper second. If all they can show is that they were "just following orders", that's not enough to absolve them.

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116462)

...an IT department should, ideally, refuse to honor the request. You mean, just like Terry Childs did? Look, I've dealt with school officials, and their basic attitude is "We're doing this with good intentions, therefore there couldn't be anything wrong with it. And they stick to that story, even when presented with overwhelming proof that what they are doing is a violation of the law, because they are inherently incapable of admitting they have made a mistake.

Re:Wow... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116640)

...an IT department should, ideally, refuse to honor the request. You mean, just like Terry Childs did?

Childs refused his boss' and a judge's orders to protect his network. He didn't refuse his boss' and a judge's orders to do something that he thought was against the law.

If it doesn't feel right, or legal, or ethical, then you need to speak up, move on, or document the crap out of it to protect yourself. Participating, and then laughing about it via email isn't exactly the same thing.

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116556)

How often does IT get to make moral decisions?

School Administration "Hey, activate the anti-theft program on XXXXX due to non-payment."

School IT "I'm sorry, I don't believe I'll do that because I don't trust your decision making abilities."

School Administration "Bye Bye"

Re:Wow... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116636)

This is why I made the distinction between "ideally" and "realistically". Ideally, the IT department would have the sack to refuse and the administration would have the brains to listen. Realistically, at least an email thread explaining IT's opposition to the move before they did it would at least tell us they knew it was wrong and tried to stop it.

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116712)

If the school is telling you to turn on the anti-theft program on a school laptop what is your argument you would make to the administrators to let them know that what they are doing is wrong?

Secondly, how would you know that it would be wrong for them to turn on the anti-theft tracking software in the first place?

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117082)

Well, if my boss told me to break into someone's house, or even to look in the windows because they though that that someone had stolen equipment from work I'd say "sure, as soon as the police officer with the warrant gets here I'll be happy to help him!" If a crime hasn't occurred, then it's not worth activating a "feature" like this. If it has occurred, then it's worth getting the police involved. If it's in between, then it's time to call your insurance company and see if they'll pay the claim for the "stolen" equipment anyway. (Most times if you report it stolen and show the police report you'll get your money. It's not your job to track down the criminals or the equipment, it's the police's.)

To your second point, I know that common sense isn't that common, but really, unless there's a signed document from these kids parents allowing the camera to be turned on, I think that everyone involved should go to jail for at least a little while. It's illegal to film in someone's bedroom without their permission. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and all that. I know that we all love the stories about the person who used "back to my Mac" to take pictures of the criminal who took their laptop, but just wait until someone does that with a computer that's been stolen by a teenage girl and gets nailed for "creation of child porn" when they track their computer while she's dressing in the morning.

Re:Wow... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117212)

The common sense probably would have been to use an anti-theft tracking software that does not take pictures.

Re:Wow... (1)

ncohafmuta (577957) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117406)

You don't. You notify the company's legal department. It's not a technology issue.

Re:Wow... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116706)

The time to oppose this program/policy/practice is when they are talking about purchasing it and/or installing it. I find it hard to believe everyone involved thought it was a great idea. Someone's gonna pop up with something to cover their own ass before all this is over.

Re:Wow... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116754)

I'm not well schooled in this, but I can't imagine a school purchasing laptops for students to take home without some form of anti-theft tracking software. Can you imagine the slashdot thread on that happening when half the laptops disappear?

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116868)

Seems simple enough, you make the kids parents sign for the machines. If the machine disappears they pay for it.

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116986)

No, no, "I can't imagine" doing this without my Orwellian omni-surveillance iPantopticon! "I can't imagine" not being tagged, tracked, and on camera at all time! "I can't imagine"
what anyone did to protect leased property prior to 2000AD!

Re:Wow... (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117148)

School Administration "Hey, activate the anti-theft program on XXXXX due to non-payment."

School IT: put a ticket in the cue and i will do it as soon as the ticket shows up (loads the control console and has it minimized while he deals with the other 30 things he needs to get done YESTERDAY)

this is a No Ticky No LawnLee kind of thing

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117232)

Didn't we learn from the Terry Childs case that if the people who own the software / hardware tell you to do something, you do it or risk a felony conviction for obstructing their use of the devices.

So do what they say or you are screwed. but wait... do what they say and you are screwed anyway.

Best to not work in that field until they work up some new boilerplate that protects Tech folks from immoral bosses directives.

re: wow... (2, Insightful)

ed.han (444783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116406)

i really don't think that the the heads that roll will be confined to IT. in that kind of environment, someone puts together a request that goes to IT, right? it won't be IT that approved the webcam capability on the hardware.

ed

Re:Wow... (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116434)

I sure hope those "IT Dept" folks have emails archived indicating the request to do this.

The "We were only following orders" defense didn't work out so well for the last guys that used it. It doesn't matter who told you to do it when you're breaking the law and you know it.

Re:Wow... (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116472)

Re:Wow... (0, Flamebait)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116568)

How can that be? Our current President promised not to support any bill containing telecom immunity......

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116494)

The "We were only following orders" defense didn't work out so well for the last guys that used it.

Yes, because this is comparable to genocide....

It doesn't matter who told you to do it when you're breaking the law and you know it.

Is there a law against installing spyware on corporate/school district machines? It surely would have been a violation of the law to install said software on the students personal machines, but on school supplied machines?

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116440)

Didn't the principal suspend a kid for supposedly taking "drugs" at home, that turned out to be Mike N' Ikes?

The principal was at the very least aware of images taken of students in their homes and had no problems with them at the time the suspension was issued.

I don't claim to know the facts of the matter, but it sure looks like lies compounding on lies. I really hope the people in charge get nailed for this. If I was a parent with a student at that school, I'd be filing a lawsuit.

Re:Wow... (4, Informative)

doas777 (1138627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116834)

I sympathise with them to a certain extent, but Mike Prebix has been caught on film making statements about how cool it was that he could use this software to observe students without them knowing.

Additionally there is plenty of evidence that IT staff did view the images as is shown in their emails. the report concludes that "there was no evidence of spying" but acknowledges that there would be no way to obtain evidence that spying was or wasn't happening. there were numerous incidents where the software was engaged, but for no known reason, and several times when it was engaged but there is no record of who made the request, or in some cases, of who actually turned it on.

it also doesn't lend credibility that they purged the entire LanRev TheftTracker database some months before this issue, destroying much of what would have been evidence in this case.

Re:Wow... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117032)

Otherwise...wow. I feel bad for them.

I don't feel sorry for anyone with such lax morals. WTF is wrong with people?

Lower Merion (3, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116180)

It's Lower Merion.

Boned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116188)

Oh these people are boned, scapegoating in a preliminary report.

And with American Child Pornography Laws, it doesn't matter if you saw it, if you possess it, each image is 10 years+

Must be quite a few incriminating photos, might want to move your kid if you live in that area, I have a feeling the Education Budget is going to be depeleted in that town for quite some time.

Re:Boned (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116594)

"And with American Child Pornography Laws, it doesn't matter if you saw it, if you possess it, each image is 10 years+"

Maybe. But who is "you" in this case?

Re:Boned (2, Interesting)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116730)

But who is "you" in this case?

Any of the school employees that had access to and/or "Dominion and Control" over the images.

Isn't that the standard for illegal things found in your car/apartment, etc? Even if they're not yours, if you had access or dominion and control over them, you're presumed to 'own' them.

Re:Boned (2, Interesting)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117244)

so then everyone from the IT guys on up? Including the Governor, and state house/senate, and appointed school chairman? or? what about the whole teachers union(they are a union, one for all and all for one)?

Re:Boned (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117038)

Maybe. But who is "you" in this case?

"you" is probably "one". The singular indefinite pronoun.

HTH.

 

...Seriously? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116190)

Ok, really "Lax IT policies" and "record keeping"? How is that even an excuse? Yeah, if perhaps like 30 pictures were taken it could be blamed on that. But seriously? 58,000 pictures? There is more than lax IT policies. Yeah, perhaps someone might do it once to get a laugh, but no (sane) person is going to do it 58,000 times.

How hard is it not to activate software unless the laptop has been stolen? It it isn't like its too hard to determine if it has been stolen or not...

Re:...Seriously? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116312)

The definition of chutzpah is saying this:

Ballard Spahr admits that there is no way to determine how often the images were viewed, but says it found no evidence that the IT staff had viewed any of the images.

when you got by acting on what you thought you saw in one of those images. Wow. Do they cut out that little part of the brain with the "do not lie" label when you become a lawyer?

Re:...Seriously? (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116386)

Do they cut out that little part of the brain with the "do not lie" label when you become a lawyer?

Yes.

Re:...Seriously? (1)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116624)

Yeah, I think you need to include with your admission package to law school.

Re:...Seriously? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116524)

Not to mention this was always a bad idea.

These were Apple laptops, right? I know Apple offers MobileMe tracking on lost/stolen iPads and iPhones. Why not work with Apple on a solution for laptops as well?

The second someone first uttered the phrase "turning on a webcam on a child's laptop without their knowledge" anyone with a shred of common sense should have said no.

Re:...Seriously? (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116580)

I honestly hope they go through every image. Ya know why? So we can see if any of them contain student nudity. Because with that high number, and amount of images taken student's homes? There's going to be some image that's highly illegal. I really hope they get down to the content of the images at some point. I'll have a bowl of popcorn handy if it ever happens because that'll be the best shit-storm ever!!!

Re:...Seriously? (1)

zeroduck (691015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116920)

They have already done that with the 58,000 pictures they have recovered (there supposedly are more they haven't recovered). The report from the defendants claims that there was no nudity, only a picture with partial nudity. Take that as you will.

"No proof exists" and other weasel words (2, Insightful)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116198)

I probably watch too many cop shows but when a suspect says, "No proof exists", it's usually a sign of moral guilt. Maybe even of distruction of evidence. Regardless, this is weak and should be treated as a serious infringement against the privacy of the students and their families.

IMHO, of course. Oh, and IANAL but I do watch Law and Order. ;)

Re:"No proof exists" and other weasel words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116304)

Guilt is pretty irrelevant, unlike Law & Order, they can't really take suspects into a room and start hitting them without reprecusions and/or ignore their requests for legal counsel :). Well, they could...but not much would come of it.

The proof is what we need, and this sounds to me like the old "throw-everything-against-the-wall-see-what-sticks" defense. So: My clients didn't do it, but if they did, here's why it is okay, and if it's not okay, here's why you shouldn't send them to prison, and if you do send them to prison....

But we'll see what happens - this kind of crap needs to be taken very seriously, and even if their defense is the real story, those in charge need to take responsibility for lack of supervision and be fired.

Just my $0.02.

Re:"No proof exists" and other weasel words (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116458)

It just makes me think of Bart Simpson:

"I didn't do it.
Nobody saw me do it.
You can't prove anything."

Re:"No proof exists" and other weasel words (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116692)

"I probably watch too many cop shows but when a suspect says, "No proof exists", it's usually a sign of moral guilt."

Maybe. But it's usually more a sign that "no proof exists".

Regarding morals Romans already did it quite right more than 2000 years ago with things like 'in dubio pro reo'.

Re:"No proof exists" and other weasel words (3, Funny)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116824)

I was told there would be no Latin on Slashdot... :)

Re:"No proof exists" and other weasel words (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116996)

Maybe. But it's usually more a sign that "no proof exists".

No. It's usually more a sign that the person saying it wishes that no proof exists.

In this case, there is ample proof - students being harassed by school officials for things "caught" by the camera, and emails between staff commenting on the photos.

Re:"No proof exists" and other weasel words (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117216)

There's no "maybe" about it. The IT people knew what they were doing was wrong and so stored all incriminating evidence in a manner that would allow them to easily destroy it when the shit hit the fan. They most likely had it all on a single hard drive and then just used something like GNU shred on it when the scandal came to light.

The gun killed him (5, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116218)

put the gun in jail, we are innocent.

Re:The gun killed him (2, Funny)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116298)

Yeah, and the music too. Marilyn Manson did it.

Re:The gun killed him (1)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116316)

Wait no, it's Bush's fault, damn Patriot Act. Damn Damn Dammmmmmmn.

Re:The gun killed him (1)

sheph (955019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116608)

I'd stick with the first one. Far more plausible.

Re:The gun killed him (1, Troll)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116646)

Wait no, it's Bush's fault, damn Patriot Act. Damn Damn Dammmmmmmn.

No, it couldn't have been Bush. He was too busy plotting the 9/11 attacks to have the free time.

Re:The gun killed him (0, Offtopic)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116742)

Can I blame Global Warming then? errr Climate Change!?!111

Re:The gun killed him (0, Flamebait)

sabs (255763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116898)

The dumb Ass Democrats passed the stupid Patriot Act without so much as a fight.
Dumb idiots couldn't trip over themselves fast enough to lick Bush's ass right after 9/11.

Re:The gun killed him (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116528)

Take the guns away and we'd have less murders/suicides.

Re:The gun killed him (1)

sheph (955019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116648)

No you wouldn't. You'd just have crazy people driving into oncoming traffic and killing even more innocent people.

So how did they see the kid eating candy? (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116274)

Really how did they see the kid eating Mike and Ike's candy?
And isn't a crime to spy even if you don't look at the data?

Re:So how did they see the kid eating candy? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116550)

It's interesting that the Police in various states are coming down like a ton of bricks on people videotaping them screwing up arrests, then posting them to YouTube. How is this different in terms of the wiretaping laws? I'll bet any waiver form signed by parents in order to get these MacBooks didn't include anything allowing remote monitoring. I hope the IT department isn't the only one who gets their ass reamed in this. I'm sure the FBI's investigation will go after everyone they can get. I wonder if any school administrators are planning to go to Europe or South America this summer...

Re:So how did they see the kid eating candy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116838)

The computer was removed from the school without paying the required insurance fee to do so. They then accessed files on the laptop and when they reviewed them, they thought they saw drugs in a picture. The school district felt obligated to inform the parents of the possible drugs.

Re:So how did they see the kid eating candy? (2, Insightful)

Jer (18391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117028)

The computer was removed from the school without paying the required insurance fee to do so. They then accessed files on the laptop and when they reviewed them, they thought they saw drugs in a picture. The school district felt obligated to inform the parents of the possible drugs.

I think the OP is wondering how that squares with this:

the report also maintains that no proof exists that anyone in IT viewed images captured by the webcams."

If there's "no proof" that anyone in IT viewed the images, how did the picture of the kid eating candy end up in the hands of a school administrator?

Re:So how did they see the kid eating candy? (4, Interesting)

zeroduck (691015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117138)

This is what I've heard (source [yahoo.com] ):

The report says Robbins turned in his laptop with a broken screen and was issued a loaner on Oct. 20, but school officials quickly moved to retrieve it due to outstanding insurance fees. So the tracking program was activated from Oct. 20 to Nov. 4 and captured 210 webcam photographs and 218 screen shots, the report said.

So they knew who had the laptop (not missing). They gave it to him (not stolen). They didn't attempt to recover the laptop by using reasonable measures (asking him for it back, calling the parents). But some how, spying on him for 15 days, off campus, is reasonable for not paying a $50 fee?

Re:So how did they see the kid eating candy? (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117146)

1. The student can not turn on the Web cam only the school can.
2. It is still spying and illegal to remotely turn on a recording device and then later recover the data from the device. You know like planting say a tape-recorder in a conference room.
3. They reviews the pictures they got from spying.
4. It seems that they told the student but no where did I see that they informed the parents.
5. What proof do you have that the picture was on the local drive and sent over the net? Even if it was it just doesn't matter.
6. YOU DON"T FREAKING NEED A WEB CAM TO TRACK A LAPTOP! All they need to know was that it was accessing the net from a location that wasn't the school!
Frankly WHAT IS DUMB AS A BOX OF ROCKS is if they really didn't want the laptops to work off campus they could have had it lock if they used it off the school network if it was not insured!

Even if everything you say is right so?
They illegally spied on the kid. Jail time.

like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymore (2, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116340)

You never know where there may be a camera, especially outside. You never know where your intertube bits may end up. Assume the worst. This is just a preview of the future.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116398)

This is just a preview of the future.

We were told there would be jetpacks! Where's my jetpack, damnit!

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116400)

God is always watching you.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116480)

God is always watching you.

No, God is always watching you because you're probably up to no good. For the rest of us it's the "honor system".

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1)

overlordofmu (1422163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116502)

No, she isn't.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116578)

Lately, God had been paying a lot more attention to YouTube than to my personal life.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116532)

One would think a teenager alone in his own bedroom would have a "reasonable expectation of privacy". Especially since we all KNOW what teenagers do when alone in their own bedrooms!

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (3, Funny)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116908)

We do? ...or are you trying to tell us that you were one of the school district IT guys, so you know for sure?

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117000)

Let's just say I remember being a teenager... with a lot of time on my hands.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117072)

Especially since we all KNOW what teenagers do when alone in their own bedrooms!

What, write Space Invader clones in BASIC for the Commodore PET?

That's what I did, anyway.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116536)

There may not be practical privacy, but there's still a right to privacy and laws against spying.

Assume the worst, but don't be complacent and tolerant when it happens.

When walking the street at night in a bad neighborhood, I try to stay in the light and away from dark corners. Assuming the worst. If I am mugged or assualted, I'm still calling the cops.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116588)

This is not a case of a photograph taken in public, it is a case of a photograph that was secretly taken inside someone's home. There are specific protections against that sort of behavior, particularly when it is a government agency engaging in it. Yes, privacy still matters, despite the fact that it has become cool to voluntarily abandon it.

Re:like Zuckerman, I dotn beleive in privacy anymo (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116666)

I've heard that on average, a person is captured on camera 1,000 times in a given day in London. That number seems a little high, when when I was there, I did notice camers EVERYWHERE.

whitewash (4, Informative)

hduff (570443) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116410)

The "independent" report was written by a law firm hired by the school system.

The IT guy made forum posts talking about the "security" system.

The school used the software to do more that locate and retrieve lost or stolen laptops with all this starting because one student was accused of dealing "drugs" (aka Mike & Ike candy) based on a captured image.

This report is just posturing by adults who should know better but who have stupidly done something unethical and illegal.

The adults involved should be subject to a "zero tolerance" interpretation of the law. They can make new friends in prison and learn a trade since they won't again be employed in education in their lifetime.

In other news... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116600)

*An investigation by a law firm hired by Microsoft finds that Microsoft never engaged in monopolistic practices. The report states that lax programming practices enabled the anti-competitive acts.

*An investigation by a law firm hired by SCO finds that all UNIX copyrights belong to SCO. The report states that lax code-auditing practices enabled the theft of SCO's precious intellectual property.

*An investigation by a law firm hired by the law firms hired by SCO and Microsoft finds that you cannot tell if a lawyer is lying by seeing if his mouth is moving. The report states that lax joke-telling practices enable the spread of this malicious slander.

--Maureen O'Gara

Re:whitewash (2, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116944)

I like the bit where the report admits the Board members did indeed have knowledge of the tracking, but were too ignorant to realize what that meant, and that any who may have realized that it took pictures thought that it only would take a picture once.

And because they were ignorant, they didn't think to ask "if you can take one picture, why can't you take more pictures" and "what keeps anybody from doing this whenever they wanted".

They did, however, think to ask "can we disable tracking for certain laptops?", which is telling, considering that 5 of the 9 Board members have children in the program. Were they concerned somebody might be spying on their kids, or were they just worried because they intended to "lose" the laptops.

Took 'em, but we DIDN'T look! (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116470)

No really! We got a ton of pictures but no one ever looked! You can't prove it!

Seriously?

How in the world can anyone believe that? Then what in the heck was the purpose of taking the pictures? The whole point of taking pictures is to look. No reasonable person would believe 58,000 pictures were taken but no one looked. Nice try though.

Re:Took 'em, but we DIDN'T look! (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116748)

"How in the world can anyone believe that? Then what in the heck was the purpose of taking the pictures?"

In order for the director to review them, not the IT staff.

Understood now?

"No reasonable person would believe 58,000 pictures were taken but no one looked."

Maybe. But nobody is saying no one looked at them. Only that there's no proof that IT staff looked at them.

Re:Took 'em, but we DIDN'T look! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116968)

But.... Aren't there emails proving that the staff were commenting on the photos, referring to the "drama" and how sucked in they were?!!!.

This should be a real wake-up call to the over-use of surveillance cameras in our society. Just imagine how sucked in certain members could have become. Who knows how many under-aged students got stalked by staff members? It's very easy to get sucked into watching someone else's life via the webcam. Look at how big reality TV has gotten? People love to watch and live vicariously through others lives. It's almost impossible to not get caught up to a degree.

Re:Took 'em, but we DIDN'T look! (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117268)

also it's a computer and it can be told to do things without human intervention.

Fuck you euro-weenies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32116630)

You jackasses are shitting all over my stock market. FUCK YOU you indebted motherfuckers!

As expected (3, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116676)

It is the minions fault, of course no one in management would ever do anything amoral.

Grain of Salt (3, Informative)

kjs3 (601225) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116698)

To be clear, this was a report done by a law firm retained by the school district to "investigate" the situation. One shouldn't take it as conclusive or impartial.

"captured, but did not look" does not matter (1)

akkornel (1800252) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116704)

For pretty much all of the crimes I can think of, in the United States, the defense "I did X, but I did not do Y", where Y follows from X, does not let you off the hook. For example, "Yes, I have drug X in my possession, but I did not consume". I could also take this into the world of inappropriate imagery, but I'm not (although you, dear reader, probably did).

Besides, this is the world of computers and the Internet. Do the images still exist, and if not, how much time was there between the image's capture and it's deletion? Are there any images kept around in backups, particularly daily or incremental backups whose tapes have not yet been overwritten?

If you have a stash of images, it is entirely possible – many will say likely; some will say guaranteed – that those images will make their way out onto the Internet, especially when being so in-the-news like this makes you a target, at which point those images will exist on the Internet forever, with each image eventually being linked to the person(s) included in the image. It is critical that (a) this be prevented, and (b) everyone at Lower Merion is made aware of what can happen (could have happened).

What's really sad (0, Offtopic)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116724)

In all honesty, we aren't too far from cameras being in all our homes. London already has them on every street. Imagine 20-30 years from now when they realize that cameras on every corner street doesn't stop all the activity the administrators don't like.

This is the problem with the advance of technology: when it becomes extremely cheap, the temptation to abuse technology and violate privacy (if that concept even still exists) becomes greater and greater.

It doesn't even make sense (4, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 4 years ago | (#32116866)

An assistant principal looked at images of a student in their home and punished the student for what they saw.

I'll buy their excuse once the can explain how the I.T. department did the above. Explain how the assistant principal didn't know of the capability while punishing the student for a picture taken in the students home using this very capability.

The capability was known and the invasion of privacy was just fine with the administration until the moment they got sued. If it weren't, the situation causing the lawsuit could never have happened in the first place.

Re:It doesn't even make sense (0, Troll)

kalirion (728907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117086)

Simple. The assistant principle is not I.T., is he? Therefore this is not proof that anyone from I.T. dept saw the photo.

Who Cares? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117096)

So someone says that lax policies enabled the spying, and they also said there's no evidence that spying has occurred. Well really who cares? I wouldn't blink an eye about the policies

What I really care about is why there is a remote controlled camera in my house! I would want the head of the person who installed the software to remotely enable the webcam without my consent. After that, then I'll start caring about the policies that let this feature be used without supervision.

Really the idea wasn't bad. But what was bad is that the school administered it. If the laptop came with the remote software and the parents of the students each got to chose and individual private password, and no other access existed, then the safety to the laptop would have been the same and all privacy retained.

cost? (3, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117376)

The monitoring software is a commercial product, isn't it? Anyone know how much it costs? If the cost is non-trivial, it seems likely that someone reasonably high up in the school administration had to approve the purchase and therefore knew what it was for.

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