Web(s)cam: Peeping Toms at a PA School?

I don’t know if anyone has heard this story, but on the forums and RSS feeds I look at, everyone is going nuts about it. Basically a student is claiming that his Pennsylvania school disctrict had been using their laptop webcams to “spy” on him within his home.

The webcams in the computers used at the PA school have the ability to be turned on remotely and discreetly, leading 15 year-old Blake Robbins to be creeped out, for lack of a better term.

The question is: is this legally sound? Can this school do this simply because the computers are their property. Some important things to consider:

1. The students were under-informed about the technology.

2. These computers belong to the school.

3. These events took place off school grounds.

4. The alleged spying happened after hours in the privacy of a student’s home.

5. The school may be breaking a computer-intrusion law.

6. Who owns this footage and where is it being archived?

7. Is this case different because it deals with minors?

8. If the school was so concerned with trying to find stolen laptops, why did they not consider GPS, a much less invasive technology?

In my opinion, this case is muddy and will probably be very difficult to settle. I do, however, think that the school district was way out of line. Not only is this an obvious intrusion of privacy, but the victims in this case are minors and their families. If other adults were filming children without them knowing about it, couldn’t it be considered child pornography?

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