On schools and spy cameras
First, you'll want to have a look at this article on Boing Boing. A brief excerpt:
According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence.
Now, a brief note that I know you'll enjoy. You may remember our two cases involving online student speech, Layshock v Hermitage School District and JS v Blue Mountain School District, in which conflicting rulings were issued simultaneously on February 4 by two different Third Circuit panels. In the Layshock case, one panel ruled unanimously that a school could not discipline a student for online speech created outside of school. In JS, another panel ruled (in a 2-to-1 decision) pretty much the exact opposite. It's a bit baffling.
Now here's the good part: during arguments in the JS case, Judge D. Michael Fisher, who wrote the majority opinion, remarked that "it's not as if there's a fear that schools will begin monitoring student behavior in the home."
I wonder if Judge Fisher reads Boing Boing.
Edit, 2/19/10: By request, here is a link to the complaint in Robbins v Lower Merion School District, the case referenced in the Boing Boing article.
Chris in Philly