Last month I pointed out that the British surveillance state continued its relentless advance, and invited the reader to ponder the implementation of surveillance-state tactics here in the U.S.
Well, ponder no more. In February of this year, a Pennsylvania high school student was reportedly disciplined by the school’s assistant principal for engaging in “improper behvior” in his home. Yes, IN HIS HOME. How did the school’s assistant principal know the student was engaging in improper behavior? The assistant principal observed the at-home student by activating the webcam installed on the laptop computer the school had furnished to the student. This of course gave the school a clear view of activities in the student’s home. This, completely without the knowledge or prior approval of the family. <=Read those last three sentences again if you need to.
Well, the feds have just decided that no criminal charges will be filed against the school:
- U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger says investigators have found no evidence of criminal intent by Lower Merion School District employees who activated tracking software that took thousands of webcam and screenshot images on school-provided laptops.
- A student and his family sued the district in February, claiming officials invaded his privacy by activating the software. That case continues.
- The district has acknowledged capturing 56,000 screen shots and webcam images so it could locate missing laptops.
The laptop furnished to my daughter by Henrico County Public Schools last year was equipped with a tiny webcam, installed in the lid that contains the display screen, as well as a microphone installed near the keyboard. I taped over the webcam and covered the microphone the day she brought it home. Most newer laptops are similarly equipped.
Maybe home schooling’s not such a bad idea, eh?