February 18, 2010
Lower Merion School District (PA) wins this week's Stupid Award for rigging laptops given to students
Here is a case of real stupidity. Administrators in Lower Merion School District rigged laptop computers given to students to access the webcam feature anywhere. One student, now suing the school was disciplined, and is now suing the district, for "inappropriate conduct at home".
As reported in Boing Boing, the blog, the story is "the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.
If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come. I don't know about you, but I often have the laptop in the room while I'm getting dressed, having private discussions with my family, and so on. The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students' clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying."
While we don't like to do it, we award our STUPID AWARD to Lower Merion School District for one of the dumbest actions we have seen. They probably used stimulus money to purchase the laptops. Wouldn't that we a hoot.