My initial doubts that a school system would use the webcams in its school-issued computers to spy on kids may have been optimistic in light of the increasing detail coming out from the Lower Merion School District. The upscale suburban Philadelphia system has admitted to activating the webcams 42 times in the past 14 months, but insists it did so only to find missing laptops given to students. But the charge of spying by at least one family has led the FBI to start its own investigation.
This snippet is from the CBS Early Show which snagged an interview with the Robbins, the family suing the school system for invasion of privacy over what it maintains was unlawful spying. (I do have to say that the system can’t be happy to hear that students take the pricey computers into the bathroom to listen to music while they shower.)
According to the the interview:
Blake Robbins, the teen at the center of the controversy, told Hill it all began when Harriton High School administrators falsely accused him of selling drugs and taking pills; then said they had webcam images to prove it.
Blake says the pictures are of him eating candies.
Blake’s mother, Holly Robbins, says she “was panicked” when she learned what was going on. “I thought this was just horrifying, that somebody could, especially the school, come into my home and spy on my son, and my daughter – she’s 18 years old. And it was scary. It was like having a Peeping Tom.”
Blake’s sister, Paige Robbins, told Hill she “can say that on behalf of all of my girlfriends at Harriton, we were very scared, because we don’t check to see if the lid is closed when we’re changing. We take them in the bathroom when we’re in the shower to listen to music. So, we’re all petrified. We don’t know who’s on the other end watching us do whatever.”
I think we have to amend the standard safety talk we give our children:. Don’t take candy from strangers, a pen from airport manager Ben DeCosta or a laptop from Pennsylvania school officials.