I Spy With My Eye

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?


World of Car…Craft?

Last month, Disney informed the public of a new online community called World of Cars, inspired by the popular movie “Cars.” This new virtual community is aimed at young boys who can share their passion for cars along with their fathers. World of Cars was created with one of the co-founders of the online children’s community, Club Penguin.

The game will allow kids to create their own car persona and rub hubcaps with characters from the movie, such as Mater, the bucktoothed tow truck, or play online games such as tractor-tipping

This new virtual community is based on a monthly subcription and allows users to purchase items to “fix up” the cars of their choice.  Almost bringing to mind the popular online game, World of Warcraft, where players can “fix up” their character. Disney isn’t just hoping to create a new community and hope for the  best, they want to their users to “keeps children clicking back.”

Many people view the online gaming community as a negative atmosphere but now it is being marketed to younger and younger audiences. Younger children are interacting via virtual communities similiar to World of WarCraft but can it really be that bad? These online games aren’t similiar to player v. computer, the users are actually interacting with other users thus creating relationships in the same way they would if it were a face-to-face environment.

I am curious to see how many children will actually use Disney’s new virtual community. Are these companies creating virtual communities slowly promoting future video game addictions for younger audiences? Or are these interactive online communities merely for entertainment purposes, as so many claim?

| Sticks & Stones

During class we discussed the severity of Lori Drew’s actions toward Megan Meier. Although I agree that Drew dedicated much time and effort into luring Megan into her crude joke, there is still an issue being largely missed: why did Megan Meier want to take her own life? By attempting to prosecute Drew many people, the media included, are completely bypassing the core of the problem. In this particular case, there should be more of a focus on the reasons for Megan’s depression.

Drew’s actions are ethically and morally wrong but she did not physically coerce Megan into committing suicide so therefore I don’t see why she is being publically hanged when there are millions of people being virtually bullied on a daily basis and we don’t go through these extremities when a child is being bullied by someone older on a playground. People playing in games such as World of Warcraft are constantly baggered about “sucking” and players go as far as ostrasizing them yet most people are capable of understand reality vs. virtuality and by using this case as a way of enforcing the law to charge us with a crime whenever we say something we don’t mean is a major blow to the shared judgement that we are rational beings who understand right from wrong.

In the Trolls article, Fortuny stated, “the willingness of trolling “victims” to be hurt by words makes them complicit, and trolling will end as soon as we all get over it.” Isn’t this the same as ANY form of bullying? Doesn’t the bullying stop as soon as you stop reacting to it? Some are crying out to the government to put a tighter restriction on cyberbullying and prosecute those who are doing it, but don’t people interpret message differently than face-to-face interaction?

My friend sent a text asking me, “What are you doing tonight?” but I was too busy to send a long response as to why I was staying in on a friday night so I simply responded, “Nothing” and she interpreted the message as me being upset, which wasn’t the case at all. We cannot expect to regulate everyone actions on the internet unless they are harmful (i.e child pornography) and by a woman posing as a guy online and luring a girl into a fake relationship out of spite then proceeding to tell her “the world would be a better place without you” thus assisting in the girls suicide, does not happen very often. 

As the infamous saying suggests, “Be careful what you wish for.” Bullying happens very often and most of us agree it is wrong but what causes one person to react negatively does not occur with another. Is there really even a solution to cyberbullying? Will restrictions on cyberbullying open the door to more restrictions on other Internet activity?