Apparently using laptop webcams to spy on students isn't an isolated problem. An assistant principal in the Bronx recently not only bragged about doing just that to PBS—he demonstrated it live. Heads up: this gets real creepy.
Dan Ackerman is an administrator at Intermediate School 339, in the Bronx, and he appeared in a Frontline segment two weeks ago to demonstrate how they monitor their students' computer usage. The uncomfortable part of the segment, in which he accesses the webcams of various unknowing middle schoolers, starts at 4:36.
Not only is this clearly a privacy violation on the face of it, Ackerman's attitude gives me the willies:
"A lot of kids are just on it to check their hair, check their make-up: the girls... They don't even realize that we are watching. I always like to mess with them and take a picture."
Also weird: that no one at Frontline thought to raise this as an issue.
But I guess the bigger lesson here, kids, is that all those paranoid fantasies you like to indulge in are actually true. Big Brother is watching, and he's got an unkempt goatee.
UPDATE: Just to clarify, this situation isn't identical to the previous webcam spying incident in Philadelphia (these laptops are used only in the school, and the webcam is accessed when the students have an application like Photo Booth open). That doesn't make it right! It's still a privacy violation no matter where it takes place, and Ackerman's attitude and comments are still disturbing at best. [PBS via BoingBoing]