Parents: school used webcam to spy on our kid at home - Ars Technica

veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
Interesting article no matter what the truth ends up being.

Parents: school used webcam to spy on our kid at home
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  • EverlifeEverlife Member Posts: 253 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Really interesting article.

    I would be interested to know whether or not the children (or their guardians) were required to sign some sort of acceptable usage policy. If so, I imagine that would be a very entertaining read.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Everlife wrote: »
    Really interesting article.

    I would be interested to know whether or not the children (or their guardians) were required to sign some sort of acceptable usage policy. If so, I imagine that would be a very entertaining read.

    Interesting thought, I would like to read that as well.
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  • draineydrainey Member Posts: 261
    I think it's going to come down to what exactly the "inappriate behavior" was.

    If it was not something involving the school or the actual use of school property (laptop) then they wouldn't have any rights regardless of any possible AUP as the behavior occured in the youth's home where only his parents have any legal rights for discipline.

    If on the other hand it did involve the use of the laptop then the AUP (and I'm sure there's at least a standard generic one) most likely would give them the right to monitor and in the case of "inappropiate behavior" take disciplinary action(s).
    The irony truly is strange that you're the only one you can change. -- Anthony Gomes
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    Amazing to me that anyone supposedly as busy as teachers/school administrators are would have time to do this....

    MS
  • GAngelGAngel Member Posts: 708
    Glad i don't have kids. That would have been sitting outside the house waiting for the school to come pick it up the minute i heard about it.

    The only one spying in my house will be me thank you very much.
  • ZartanasaurusZartanasaurus Member Posts: 2,008 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Interesting. Can't give an opinion until more facts come to light.
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  • jrmeulemansjrmeulemans Member Posts: 74 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Don't look at πορνεία with the school's laptop, they will catch you in the act.
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,314 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Our CTO did a bit on a morning show where he sent out web cams under the guise of beta testing the products, and the people that received them were free to keep the product in exchange for feedback on it. Well, he had a trojan included in the software installation that allowed him to watch the people at any time. While it was just a proof-of-concept where he targeted a few friends and family members, it's pretty unsettling how easy it is to pull something like that off.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
  • EverlifeEverlife Member Posts: 253 ■■■□□□□□□□
    "In a published policy statement, the district warns that laptop users "should not expect that files stored on district resources will be private," and says the network administrator "may review files and communication to . . . ensure that students are using the system responsibly."

    Heh, I would not want to be the lawyer that has to argue the above excerpt gives the school permission to snap pictures of students via a remote webcam.

    Thanks for the followup Veritas!

    EDIT: "Robbins said he was holding a Mike and Ike candy, not pills." Now if true, that is HILARIOUS!
  • unsupportedunsupported Member Posts: 192
    If I remember correctly, the admins claimed the webcams were enabled to find lost/stolen assets. Yeah, right.
    -un

    “We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins” - Ellen Ullman
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    If I remember correctly, the admins claimed the webcams were enabled to find lost/stolen assets. Yeah, right.

    Oh now, come on! It was, "for the children!" icon_lol.gif
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  • Hyper-MeHyper-Me Banned Posts: 2,059
    When I worked for a school district we would use the iSights on the iMacs to see what people were doing in labs, but that was on school property. We never looked at what anyone was doing outside of the building.
  • ZartanasaurusZartanasaurus Member Posts: 2,008 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Oh now, come on! It was, "for the children!" icon_lol.gif

    Why is that so unbelievable?
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  • mikedisd2mikedisd2 Member Posts: 1,096 ■■■■■□□□□□
    If I remember correctly, the admins claimed the webcams were enabled to find lost/stolen assets. Yeah, right.

    So what do you think it was enabled for? You think all the teachers in this school are perverts and went to this extreme, hoping to see any kid get undressed?

    There's a lot of unwarranted cynicism about this. It was an unethical thing to do, but they more than likely had a legit reason for doing it.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Maybe it was for legitimate reasons, but not informing people that they could be watched is either insanely stupid, or twisted. Think about how many teenage kids have a computer in their bedroom, because that is exactly where they are going to leave the laptop with it probably on at all times using the Wi-Fi available at home. Now think about how many admins abuse their power (yes I know, not all Admins). Those two combined could make for some nasty situations. At the least there should have been labels on the laptops reminding the users that they may be watched.
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  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
  • EverlifeEverlife Member Posts: 253 ■■■□□□□□□□
    If anyone is curious, this is a great technical writeup of how the spyware application the admins were using functioned.

    Stryde Hax: The Spy at Harriton High

    I'm somewhat amazed that the laptops have not been forensically imaged by the parent's legal counsel. I'd be curious to know if LE has done any forensic imaging. If both groups fail to do that, they should fire whoever is doing the technical advising.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Everlife wrote: »
    If anyone is curious, this is a great technical writeup of how the spyware application the admins were using functioned.

    Stryde Hax: The Spy at Harriton High

    I'm somewhat amazed that the laptops have not been forensically imaged by the parent's legal counsel. I'd be curious to know if LE has done any forensic imaging. If both groups fail to do that, they should fire whoever is doing the technical advising.

    Thanks! Very interesting indeed!
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  • redline5thredline5th Member Posts: 119
    The bottom line is if they wanted to "track" the laptops... why not use GPS?

    "oh yeah, I recognize that wall."

    Seriously. C'mon.

    Obviously they had bad intentions. Wonder what percentage of the cheer leaders laptops were "stolen"?
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  • ZartanasaurusZartanasaurus Member Posts: 2,008 ■■■■■■■■□□
    redline5th wrote: »
    The bottom line is if they wanted to "track" the laptops... why not use GPS?

    "oh yeah, I recognize that wall."

    Seriously. C'mon.

    Obviously they had bad intentions. Wonder what percentage of the cheer leaders laptops were "stolen"?
    Really?
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  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Really?

    Okay, what is that suppose to mean icon_confused.gif:
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  • ZartanasaurusZartanasaurus Member Posts: 2,008 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Okay, what is that suppose to mean icon_confused.gif:

    He thinks there was some vast conspiracy of IT professionals and school administrators to look at teenage boob.
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  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    He thinks there was some vast conspiracy of IT professionals and school administrators to look at teenage boob.

    So your telling me schools and IT professionals don't abuse their power? I have worked in IT too long not to believe that it is possible. If I were a parent I would frothing at my mouth over this kind of invasion of privacy. Did you look at the earlier link? You might also want to listen to this podcast, very interesting:

    Network Security Podcast Blog Archive Network Security Podcast, Episode 186

    Personally I find it hard to believe that they would set something up like this without thinking through the consequences. Here is what I have a problem with:

    1. No log of who, when, and how long someone has been watching a person via this spyware.
    2. Teenagers will leave their laptops on at all time and probably at an angle where they can watch it in their bedrooms.
    3. Why are IT staff looking/spying through cameras after hours?
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  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    mikedisd2 wrote: »
    So what do you think it was enabled for? You think all the teachers in this school are perverts and went to this extreme, hoping to see any kid get undressed?

    There's a lot of unwarranted cynicism about this. It was an unethical thing to do, but they more than likely had a legit reason for doing it.

    According to one of the articles cited above, in this case it was assumed that the student was using drugs. A poor excuse. What are the chances that planned to just activate the camera when the suspected activity was taking place? They would have to know that the computer was in use, and that it just wasn't sitting on a desk somewhere. That leads me to believe that A. they left the feature on until they find something, or B. they are notified when the computer comes online. B is unlikely, because how many people leave their computers up, and running and connected to the internet while dealing or doing drugs.

    Also, they should have supposedly had someway to know if the computer was on campus. Being that the computer to our knowledge had not been reported, they should have gone no further. but they didn't. Why did the school activate the protocol? Because they believed the student was doing drugs? What led them to believe this? Also, I have heard nothing about supervision, why was the principal watching this alone? I would think it would be policy to have the session monitored, just in case illegal activity was discovered, maybe have the school safety officer watch. But from all accounts, this principal, without knowledgeable consent of anyone privately accessed a feature for a purpose not intended, and then used that information to attempt to punish the student.

    And a final question, the act, whatever it was, was not illegal, no legal action was taken, why was the student confronted with it rather than the parents? It doesn't sound like the inappropriate conduct was related to school, so why weren't the kid's parents notified, and given the opportunity to deal with the situation? Heck, in my day, that was a tier 1 response.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Very good points SephStorm!
    SephStorm wrote: »
    According to one of the articles cited above, in this case it was assumed that the student was using drugs. A poor excuse. What are the chances that planned to just activate the camera when the suspected activity was taking place?

    I might also add, why on earth are they looking at these cameras after school hours?
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  • ZartanasaurusZartanasaurus Member Posts: 2,008 ■■■■■■■■□□
    So your telling me schools and IT professionals don't abuse their power?
    Pretty sure I said no such thing.
    Personally I find it hard to believe that they would set something up like this without thinking through the consequences.
    I don't find it hard to believe at all. People get bad advice or no advice all the time. Then stories like this make the news.

    Plus a few people have made comments in the thread about being able to take pictures with the webcam not being effective against theft. Something along the lines of "it only would work if the school administrators knew the thief already". Really? Do security cameras at a convenience store only catch criminals that the staff know?

    It absolutely can serve a legitimate purpose. And it can be abused horribly. The fact that the latter is true doesn't make it some evil conspiracy of school pedophiles though. They were just really stupid. Seems like they didn't have any type of plan in place for when this technology was to be used. I wouldn't have a problem with it if the software and capabilities were known up front when the laptops were issued, and it would only be used if the laptops were reported stolen. Whoever came up with the idea of monitoring the students at all times needs to be punched in the face.
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  • keenonkeenon Member Posts: 1,922 ■■■■□□□□□□
    If the school wants to spy during school hours thats one thing. After hours I think thats the activity of a possible *** offender that hasn't been caught yet.

    Either way if the school wants to supply my kid with a laptop. We will pass on it!
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