For a brief summary:
The FBI is investigating a Pennsylvania school district accused of secretly activating webcams inside students’ homes, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press on Friday.
The school district has acknowledged that each student’s school-issued computer has software that allows the district to access it remotely, including the ability to capture images. My guess is that, in the case of the student who’s parents have sued, the alleged image was likely something the student downloaded and the school saw on his hard drive. If I’m right, it’s still creepy, but (momentarily) relegates to possibility the theories that the school captured images of naked students.
Since the privacy implications must still be considered, the article includes commentary from privacy experts. The experts aren’t quoted as saying anything surprising. The reporter offers a different perspective in her transition:
The Pennsylvania case shows how even well-intentioned plans can go awry if officials fail to understand the technology and its potential consequences, privacy experts said. Compromising images from inside a student’s bedroom could fall into the hands of rogue school staff or otherwise be spread across the Internet, they said.
Which school officials would not be ‘rogue’ if such pictures fell in their hands? I take the implication that somehow there are school staff members who should be legitimately authorized to see such pictures, that some spying is appropriate. I’m sure that’s lazy writing rather than a disturbing lack of skepticism of authority. But someone obviously authorized the installation of this software and didn’t notify the students or their parents that it was included. I always assume stupidity first, if it’s possible, but it would be unwise to rule out an conscious disregard for civil liberties.
(They’re children, after all. They have no rights at school or away from school if school officials deem those rights an impediment to order.)