In a recently filed law suit in Philadelphia, Michael and Holly Robbins claim that Lindy Matsko, the assistant principal at Harriton High School, spied on their son in their home. He allegedly accomplished this by remotely activating the embedded webcam on the boy’s laptop computer. The lawsuit alleges that the student was notified by Matsko that he was engaging in inappropriate behavior and showed the boy the photos that he had taken. Matsko has allegedly confirmed that the school, which purchased and issued the laptop to the student, has the ability to enable the webcam and take photos whenever the school wanted to.
At face value this sounds like a violation of privacy however these computers were purchased by the school with tax payer dollars and issued to the students. The computers are the property of the tax payer/school and the school is obligated to protect the interests of the tax payer. I would like to see the documentation/agreement that the students and parents had signed before they are issued the computers.
* Update 2/20/2010: A new article today seems to indicate that the agreements signed before the laptops were issued did not indicate that this webcam remote access ability was possible. The school is stating that any activations done were to locate a lost or stolen device.
John "Mike" Wright