Friday, April 23, 2010

Somebody's Watching Me

I try to catch the things that tend to slip under the radar, mostly because the major news stories and their fallacies are already covered better by other bloggers. But this is a minor local news story that I've been monitoring for a bit, and I think it may have larger significance and consequences across the nation.

Timeline:
Fri, Feb. 19, 2010
Student claims school spied on him via computer webcam

Sat, Feb. 20, 2010
Subpoena issued in Lower Merion webcam case

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the Lower Merion School District for documents related to the controversial use of remote-control cameras on students' school-issued computers, The Inquirer has learned.

Tue, Apr. 6, 2010
Subpoena stands in L. Merion Web-cam case

A federal judge said Monday that he would not throw out a subpoena for a Lower Merion School District technology coordinator in a laptop Web-cam lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois said Carol Cafiero might have information useful to the case because she was able to activate the cameras on the student-issued computers. Cafiero is trying to block efforts to get her to testify in the case.

Sat, Apr. 10, 2010
Key figure in 'Webcamgate' invokes Fifth

Carol Cafiero, who had previously sought to quash a subpoena ordering her to testify, refused to answer questions pertaining to the district's controversial practice of remotely activating webcams on Apple MacBooks issued to high-school students.


Fri, Apr. 16, 2010
Family: Pa. school snared 1,000s of webcam images

A suburban Philadelphia school district snapped secret webcam pictures of a high school student when he was partially undressed or sleeping in his bed, and captured instant messages he exchanged with friends, the student charged in court papers this week.

Sat, Apr. 17, 2010
L. Merion to let parents see secretly snapped photos

The president of the Lower Merion school board said Friday that investigators had retrieved "a substantial number" of photos secretly snapped by laptops the district gave its high school students, and that officials were arranging for parents whose children were photographed to see the pictures in private.

Mon, Apr. 19, 2010
Lower Merion report: Web cams snapped 56,000 images

Lower Merion School District employees activated the web cameras and tracking software on laptops they gave to high school students about 80 times in the past two school years, snapping nearly 56,000 images that included photos of students, pictures inside their homes and copies of the programs or files running on their screens, district investigators have concluded.

Tue, Apr. 20, 2010
Lower Merion details scope of Web-cam surveillance

Lower Merion School District employees activated the Web cameras and Internet address tracking software on laptops they gave to high school students about 146 times during the last two school years, snapping nearly 56,000 images, district investigators have concluded.

In 48 of those activations, images were recovered; 68 showed only the computer's Internet address. The rest showed nothing or could not be recovered.
Ahh, yes, the old 'we can't recover the files' trick.

And since even their own investigation had to walk back the number of times and images that were accessed, one would think in the midst of a Federal investigation that they would give it up.

But no, not these stalwart protectors of the children school district. They doubled down:
Wed, Apr. 21, 2010
Filing states student broke rules and had no expectation of privacy

Even in his own home, the Harriton High School sophomore had "no legitimate expectation of privacy" from the camera on his school-issued laptop, information systems coordinator Carol Cafiero contended in a court filing on Tuesday.
And the latest news is:
Administrator agrees to surrender [home] computer in Web cam case
56,000 photos of kids!? I bet some members of the Catholic Church wish they'd thought of this sooner.

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