Friday, April 16, 2010

More stuff we don't need

Great, my school gave me a laptop so I can be spied on. So, when I go back to school the next morning, school officials can berate me for my behavior at home. Isn't that great? Source here.

And please note: do not attack schools for this. Go after the people that engaged in this ridiculous behavior. People, you know, like computer technician Mike Perbix:

"you're controlling someone's machine, you don't want them to know what you're doing" --- Mike Perbix

Or people, you know, like technology coordinator Carol Cafiero:

Mark Haltzman, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Robbins and his family, said evidence now shows the district used the tracking software for non-authorized reasons — for instance, when students failed to pay the required insurance or return the laptops at year's end. At least once, a name mix-up led the district to activate the wrong student's laptop, he charged.

"Thousands of webcam pictures and screen shots have been taken of numerous other students in their homes, many of which never reported their laptops lost or missing," Haltzman wrote in a motion filed Thursday.

According to Haltzman, technology coordinator Carol Cafiero refused to answer his questions at a recent deposition, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. She and technician Michael Perbix were the only employees authorized to activate the webcams. Perbix did not fight the deposition.

Haltzman called Cafiero a possible "voyeur" and wants access to her personal computer to see if she downloaded any student images. To support the charge, he cited her response to an e-mail from a colleague who said viewing the webcam pictures was like watching "a little LMSD [the name of the school] soap opera."

"I know, I love it!" Cafiero allegedly replied.

  • Possession of a monitored Macbook was required for classes
  • Possession of an unmonitored personal computer was forbidden and would be confiscated
  • Disabling the camera was impossible
  • Jailbreaking a school laptop in order to secure it or monitor it against intrusion was an offense which merited expulsion
More details here, here (includes plenty of rather disturbing quotes by Mr. Perbix), here (includes photo of teenager sleeping at home taken by his laptop on command from the school), and here.

Finally, for a disturbing view of privacy gone out the window, check this article.


James Foster said...

When you say, "Do not attack schools," do you mean the school's buildings? Its managers? Its employees? Who, then are "the people that engaged in this ridiculous behavior"? Does hiring people and failing to supervise them count as "ridiculous behavior?"

Andrés said...

Oh, I'm sorry, I wasn't clear enough. What I wouldn't want out of this is an attack on every single school (the institutions) being "ridiculous" just because a few people in a school in particular did well, questionable things.