It used to be that students were fearful of their teachers, thinking that they could see everything they were doing even when their backs were turned — as though they had eyes on the backs of their heads. It seems as though one school has taken that idea a little too far and started taking advantage of the eyes they gave to students for free to spy on them when the kids thought they were in the privacy of their own home.
The FBI is now investigating the Lower Merion school district just outside Philadelphia after one student filed a lawsuit against the district for remotely activating his web camera and taking pictures of him in his home. The school had contacted him about what they “saw” and he was disciplined by the school for partaking in “inappropriate behavior” — behavior that they had only witnessed through the images that they had taken on his camera.
The school had previously argued it only used the cameras remotely when they were having trouble locating the computers, but this seems difficult to believe when they admitted the only evidence against the student was information they gained from activating his camera.
I am reminded when I was in high school and smoking was banned from all school property. The students who were smokers would cross the street and smoke in front of the stores near the school. There were no teachers who would take the time to cross the street and crack down on students smoking there because it was no longer any of their business.
Similarly, the student at home is, and should be, the concern of the parents or caretakers of said students, not the school itself. The only time the school should have any say over what the student is doing is during school hours, while the student is on school property.
It concerns me any school could have this kind of insightful Panopticonic gaze into the private life of its students. In a world where computer technicians easily turn into peeping toms, are we so far off from a place where students will wear dog collars to track their location and monitor in on their private conversation?