Big Brother is watching you – via webcam…

Continuing our QUANTUM COMPUTER CRASH-(COLLISION?)-COURSE to get your geek juices flowing for our upcoming performance BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL

Technology is a double-edged sword. There’s easily one ill for every cure technology can provide.

big-brother-poster for blog

Some thoughts and responses to the privacy debate that has come up regarding a high school student in the Lower Merion School District from our GUEST BLOGGER MATTHEW “DJ REZ” RESNICK

Rez says:

Been reading about the goings on in Lower Merion, PA on the net. LM is best known as the high school home of Kobe Bryant. The relevance of the previous statement to my current piece is completely nil, just chalk it up to Rez looking for some degree of connectedness.

This piece has very little if anything to do with roundball. What it has to do with is privacy, computers, and the ability to pierce the former with the latter.

Short form: A student at a high school in Lower Merion (Harriton HS to be exact) got suspended for “improper behavior at home”. The behavior has been rumored to be many things; let’s just say it was something the student could have been suspended for at school, but he did it at home.

How, do you ask, did the school find out that he did whatever he did?

He wasn’t tattled on by a classmate. A teacher didn’t tell on him. His parents didn’t narc him out.

No. The student was nailed by a picture taken by the webcam on his computer.

The scary implication is as follows. The school can, and has, activate the webcam on the computer in order to see what/who is going on in front of it. Now, as a “technology professional”, I can tell you that this is a cool piece of tech…when the laptop is stolen, and you have a court order/warrant to turn the damn thing on so you can see who’s using it.

Someone out there needs to tell me how the school district can do this without parental consent. Someone, additionally, needs to tell me what kind of behavior would merit this kind of response. Someone invariably invokes “in loco parentis”. Got news for you, folks…that sort of stuff evaporates the moment you walk out of school. In bloody fucking valid. If your mom and dad want to do that to you…well, fuckshits, your mom and dad might have you dead to rights. But I see nothing in the constitution OR any legal opinion that makes it okay.

You do know what this reminds me of, though. Right kids?

Yep. About twenty six years late, but it’s 1984. Big brother is watching you. I’d understand somewhat if this was about nuclear bombs or industrial secrets or people looking at lolcats too much at work…but these are teenagers, guys. What the hell could this kid have been doing at home to merit being watched, AND THEN SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL? For doing something AT HOME. Really, Harriton High School?

Really.

Again, I don’t have all the data. I don’t pretend to know exactly what happened here, but what I do know is this: Blake Robbins was at home, in his room, doing something. His school activated the webcam on his computer without his knowledge and snapped a photo of him. They used this photo to suspend him from school. Whatever he did, it was not at school, it was at home.

Invasion of privacy is what it sounds like to me, kids. And either (a) someone’s gonna lose their job over this, or (b) kids in the Lower Merion School District need to invest in some electrical tape.

Matthew Resnick is a contributing blogger for SATURDAYS IN THE DARK. His radio program can be heard Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9pm at THOR RADIO.COM.

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~ by saturdaysinthedark on March 2, 2010.

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