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General Chat Thread, US School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school & home in General; Isn't this akin to using securus to log what people get up to at home? It's tempting and possibly overly ...
  1. #16
    mark's Avatar
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    Isn't this akin to using securus to log what people get up to at home? It's tempting and possibly overly so to zealous types who are wanting to act in a child's interest but overstepping the mark.

  2. #17

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    And here's the latest on this story. Should be interesting to see how it develops!

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    Using the webcam to find lost or stolen laptops is a silly idea, for one if its lost it would have to be on and connected to a wireless network (Although i dont find the idea of an american loosing a laptop connected to the wired network too far-fetched). The Lid also has to be open, so if its lost in its bag and on all they will get is pictures of the touch pad.

    If it gets stolen then it will probably be formatted (to get past passwords etc...) so the program will dis appear.

    The only way it stands any chance of being remotely useful is if they take regular pictures and keep them for a while.

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  6. #21

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    I actually grew up in the next district over. It was national news here in the US. That school district is the wealthiest in PA (and is part of the famous Main Line) and they provide Mac's to every student that they can take home.

  7. #22

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    Latest info today made this a whole lot worse:

    School IT allegedly took "thousands" of pics in webcam case

    Now, thanks to the court order asking the district to preserve evidence on all school-issued computers, the family has discovered more than 400 photos of Blake alone, not to mention the "thousands" more taken of other students in their homes. In addition to these photos of students doing private things in their rooms, the school district also allegedly took screenshots of IM conversations they were having with friends.

    Even worse, the IT staff responsible for implementing and monitoring the student laptops seemingly viewed the whole thing as entertainment. The motion cites e-mails sent between staffers—one says the pictures were "like a little [Lower Merion School District] soap opera. Carol Cafiero, one of the administrators responsible for the program responded "I know. I love it!"
    What is wrong with these people?! Do they have no professional standards whatsoever?

  8. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    Latest info today made this a whole lot worse:

    School IT allegedly took "thousands" of pics in webcam case



    What is wrong with these people?! Do they have no professional standards whatsoever?
    I'd've thought that was pretty much self-evident.

    This should be added to the required reading list methinks - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_...Doctorow_novel)

  9. #24

    localzuk's Avatar
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    The lot of them should be sacked, and prosecuted. They give school IT staff a bad name.

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    Do they have no professional standards whatsoever?
    Allegedly not. Although I think school techs are a bit more inclined to be net-cops, this is really a fundamental either-or thing and some people just don't have that basic set of acceptable ethical standards. This kind of development was reasonably predictable because anyone with those standards wouldn't have got an instrusive system like that in the first place surely? If you really, really have to track potentially stolen laptops then what's wrong getting suitable authorisation and so on, then just flipping some virtual switch so the laptop tells you it's IP address next time it hits the net?

    Aside: What do you say if some manglement bod walks up and asks you to closely track someone's network activity? Does it make a difference if the target is Student or Staff (where they might just be fishing for reasons to dismiss)? Do you have a policy pertaining to this area?
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 19th April 2010 at 02:11 PM. Reason: typo

  11. #26


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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post
    Aside: What do you say if some manglement bod walks up and asks you to closely track someone's network activity?
    It depends if it's actively track or review what we already log? But generally, it's "Without giving away any information I don't need to know, why do you want me to do this?" (i.e justify the need). Further responses from me are dependent on their answer.

    Active tracking does set off my "fishing expedition" alert.

    Does it make a difference if the target is Student or Staff (where they might just be fishing for reasons to dismiss)?
    Yes - staff monitoring has a much higher "burden of necessity", need for documentation, SMT oversight.

    For students it's most likely to be "based on what $parent has complained about, we think W is doing X to Y via Z (where Z is something computery) can we confirm it either way?"

    Do you have a policy pertaining to this area?
    Our tech wiki has this:

    ====== Log Requests ======

    If asked for logs regarding staff or students for potential (and / or possibly criminal) investigation, we need to know:

    * What is the reason the information is required?
    * What date / time ranges is it required for?
    * Who will the information be shared with? (unions, the LA, etc)
    * Once the data is handed over will there be signatures, etc.
    * Is there a log kept of who looks at this data?

    **Get it all in writing** - if they're not prepared to do so, find Pete or $SMT_member. You're not being obstructive, you're safeguarding the school, the Head and yourself. If an incident is potentially serious enough to investigate, it's serious enough to do it properly.

    Make the requestee aware that if there are not satisfactory answers to the above then the data may be laughed at should it go to tribunal.

    No fishing expeditions

    ===== Laptops/Computers used in the suspect activity =====

    If it's a criminal investigation then the machine(s) in question should be isolated so no-one can touch it until authorised people can investigate it. No-one in school should be investigating this - insufficient training and accusations of bias.

    Document

    * The date and time you were asked to remove machine
    * The date and time you did remove the machine
    * Explain any significant difference between the times eg person did not have laptop in school
    * was the machine in use when it was removed?
    * how was it in use?

    How you isolate the machine is also important. somebody will have to sign a police statement documenting its isolation and who could have had access to it. The police will need to be sure the trail of evidence is maintained. so if it is in a safe in an office. The key to the safe and the office should not be in the possession of one individual.

    Laws regarding the monitoring of employees: The laws relating to monitoring your employees | OUT-LAW.COM by Pinsent Masons LLP

  12. 2 Thanks to pete:

    AngryTechnician (19th April 2010), danrhodes (6th May 2010)

  13. #27

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    The whole model in the US education sector is different since the district are pretty much independent governing school bodies. There are very few standards that are across the board even in surrounding districts. I imagine that are more standards in the UK. Also, I've heard it school administrator who told the IT technician to trace the laptop. As someone who currently works in US, I know all to well the unique of dealing with school administrators who are not well versed in IT policies and for that matter any kind of legal implications that is not directly involved with education.

  14. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheITCrowd View Post
    As someone who currently works in US, I know all to well the unique of dealing with school administrators who are not well versed in IT policies and for that matter any kind of legal implications that is not directly involved with education.
    That's by no means a problem restricted to the US!

    The school district's own report into this fiasco was released earlier this week, with some good coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The report was prepared by lawyers defending the school, so as one might expect, it pretty much admits what was already known while claiming there is "no proof that school staffers intentionally used the technology to spy on students."

  15. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    The lot of them should be sacked, and prosecuted. They give school IT staff a bad name.
    Agreed, this is a very worrying article, imagine how the pupils and familys must feel, this is not the kind of advert we want for Educational IT Staff.

    D

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