A couple of months ago, a Philadelphia school district was presented with a law suit. Why is this different? Well, in this case the school district is being accused of spying on their students.
The district allowed webcams to activate when a school-issued laptop has been reported stolen or missing. Once the laptop is reported, a picture is taken of the person using the laptop AND the computer screen. The picture can then be used to locate the device, and so on and so forth. The idea seems simple enough, right?
Wrong. The parents of a student, Blake Robbins, were outraged when they recieved a notice from the principal of the school stated he witnessed their son “doing something inappropriate.” Robbins’ parents were furious and filed a suit under the protection of electronic-privacy.
The laptop in Robbins possession was never reported missing or stolen so what probable cause did the school district have in invading his privacy? None.
Experts in electronic privacy law believe the district’s actions could amount to illegal wiretapping.
I understand that the issue is with a school district and not a college, so the requirements and rules are different. But to what extent do we enforce students to give up their rights to privacy when an immediate danger isn’t present?
Should the school be allowed to use this feature at all? And if they are, should they be held legally accountable for abusing it?