Classroom Technology

School Webcam Flap Spurs Look at Wiretap Laws

By The Associated Press — April 06, 2010 1 min read

Broadening wiretap laws to include videotaped surveillance could either safeguard privacy or thwart efforts to recover stolen property, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., was told at a recent hearing in Philadelphia, not far from a school that sparked a lawsuit for trying to find missing laptops by activating their webcams.

Pennsylvania’s Lower Merion school district has been sued by a high school student who accuses the district of spying by secretly activating webcams on the school-issued laptops. Officials admit they did so but said they were only trying to locate 42 lost or stolen laptop computers. The accusations are the subject of ongoing county and FBI investigations.

Existing wiretap and video-voyeurism statutes do not adequately address privacy and other concerns in an era marked by the widespread use of cellphone, laptop, and surveillance cameras, Sen. Specter had said prior to last week’s hearing. He later said that testimony at the hearing convinced him of that.

The testimony included a written statement from Blake Robbins, the Harriton High School student who sued the Lower Merion district.

“My family and I recognize that in today’s society, almost every place we go outside of our home we are photographed and recorded by traffic cameras, ATM cameras, and store surveillance cameras,” the student wrote. “This makes it all the more important that we vigilantly safeguard our homes, the only refuge we have from this eyes everywhere onslaught.”

Only one person from the Lower Merion district—a parent opposed to the Robbins family’s lawsuit—testified at the hearing, which heard mainly from experts debating the right balance between privacy and security concerns.

The parent, Bob Wegbreit, said a warning might suffice to let families know the district might activate webcams without a student’s knowledge. Students could then choose to keep the computers in other parts of the house, instead of their bedrooms, said Mr. Wegbreit, who fears the lawsuit will damage the upscale districts finances and reputation.

A version of this article appeared in the April 07, 2010 edition of Education Week as Webcams Posing Policy Conundrum

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Measuring & Supporting Student Well-Being: A Researcher and District Leader Roundtable
Students’ social-emotional well-being matters. The positive and negative emotions students feel are essential characteristics of their psychology, indicators of their well-being, and mediators of their success in school and life. Supportive relationships with peers, school
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Whitepaper
5 Strategies for Hybrid Learning Success
Discover five foundational strategies districts should employ when developing their hybrid learning initiatives, complete with concrete steps administrators can take today to ensure sustainable hybrid learning success tomorrow, and beyond.
Content provided by Securly
Classroom Technology Opinion The Stanford Scholar Bent on Helping Digital Readers Spot Fake News
Rick Hess speaks with Sam Wineburg about fake news, digital learning, and how to help children navigate online content.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Whitepaper
Assessing Integrity & Reliability White Paper
A survey of 600 teachers, principals, and administrators about their experiences with remote and hybrid learning during the COVID-19 scho...
Content provided by GradeCam
Classroom Technology Opinion Beyond the Invite: What Is Clubhouse and Why Should Educators Care?
Clubhouse is a new social-media app with clubs, rooms, and stages. Why are so many educators flocking to it right now?
7 min read
Mindfull
Shutterstock