Issues, Technology & Laws ISSUES Nationally ranked Harrington High School in Philadelphia administered laptops to their 2300 students, but then monitored them in their homes via webcam without alerting them or the parents that they would be doing so. – February, 2010 A civil action lawsuit was filed against Lower Merion School District. (Blake J Robbins v. Lower Merion School District) RIGHT: Plaintiff, Blake Robbins holds his school-issued laptop.
Issues, Technology & Laws ISSUES cont… School claims that the webcams were strictly a security feature used to track stolen laptops and that the feature has since been disabled. School admitted that they did not notify parents or students about the webcam security feature and reportedly regretted the decision not to do so. – 2/19/10 School Districts IS coordinator declined to testify, citing 5 th Amendment – April 9, 2010 LEFT: Lindy Matsko, assistant vice principal, denies authorizing the Webcam to spy on students.
Issues, Technology & Laws ISSUES cont… The case is currently ongoing in the U.S. District Court system (Eastern District of Pennslyvania) Deep pockets? - Lower Merions per capita income is #5 in the nation for those with a population over 50,000
Issues, Technology & Laws TECHNOLOGY Laptop webcams – cameras attached to computers that have the ability to transmit photos and video. Remote operation – use of radio or wire technology to control the operation of equipment from a distance or remote location Security censors – systems with controls that activate when property is stolen or compromised.
Issues, Technology & Laws LAWS Exact violations & their application to this case have not been fully disclosed. Currently under consideration in the U.S. District Court system. The following laws have identified as those that have been potentially violated by the School District: 1.4 th Amendment of U.S. Constitution – Right to Privacy – protects citizens from unlawful searches 1.Civil Rights Act – Section 1983 – guards citizens against anti-constitutional activity by State or Federal Authority (in this case, the school district)
Issues, Technology & Laws LAWS cont… Potential Violations cont… 3.Electronic Communication Privacy Act- protects citizens electronic communication during transfer 4.Stored Communications Act – protects information stored online 5.Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – protects citizens from intentional unlawful computer access 6.Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act – protects against unlawful computer surveillance 7.Pennsylvania common law
Enabling Issues Seemingly Just Cause for Implementation Webcam monitor would allow the school to track stolen computers Once implemented, provided an easy, concealed method to track student behavior National existence of school faculty misconduct In their 2002 survey on 2064 students in 8th through 11th grade, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reported 38% of the students were harassed by teachers or school employees.
Enabling Issues cont… Misleading information regarding monitor Parents signed an agreement that noted the school's ability to remotely "monitor hardware" but did not go into any detail about the Webcam and how it could be used to watch families Students were not aware of the schools ability to monitor their behavior at home School justified its behavior.
Recorded Penalties PAST PRESIDENCE First of its kind in terms of a school spying on its students. Problem occurs with the fact this is an ongoing investigation, so no outcome yet. Could lead to new federal laws against the use of spying technology
LAWSUITS FOR GENERAL SPYING ACLU v. NSA(2006) http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-sues-stop-illegal-spying-americans-saying-president-not-above-law Filed to stop Bush Administrations secret surveillance program put in place shortly after 9/11 NSA was data mining regular peoples emails, chats and phone calls They also felt that Bush out-stepped his boundary by signing this program into law without a required court order Lawsuit claimed that 1 st and 4 th amendments were violated ACLU won initial suit in 2006 and Judge agreed that Bush overstepped his boundaries This was later appealed and is still in further litigation but this was a big victory for those afraid of being illegally recorded Recorded Penalties cont…
LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS According to Eye Spy Video recording service unless you are in law enforcement with a valid COURT ORDER, monitoring or recording private conversations of is generally considered eavesdropping or wiretapping In order to avoid this signs have to be posted or an audio messages stating this conversation may be recorded for quality assurances http://www.eyespyvideo.com/Legal-Issues-Considerations.html Recorded Penalties cont…
Pennsylvania's Wiretapping & Electronic Surveillance Control Act, (18 Pa. C.S. § 5701, et seq) States that in general electronic surveillance is illegal Includes interception(recording), oral and wire communications Two types of consent when it comes to surveillance: One Party Consent & Two/All Party Consent Pennsylvania falls into the latter, more restrictive category Since the children/parents had no clue they were being recorded, this would appear to be an illegal surveillance The federal statute (18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq) requires one party consent but allows states to be more restrictive http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/crime.aspx?id=199 Recorded Penalties cont…
Response To School Surveillance By U.S. Congress On April 15, 2010 Bill S.3214 was submitted by Senators Feingold, Specter and Kaufman urging the prohibition of video surveillance except those authorized under chapter 119 of title 18, United States Code or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 This was a direct response to Lower Merions video surveillance of their students Since technically Merion did not break any federal law, though they may have broken Pennsylvanias law on surveillance, this is being introduced to get illegal video surveillance added to any previous laws against this Recorded Penalties cont…
Response To School Surveillance By U.S. Congress cont… They cite in their argument U.S. v. Torres (1984) that, Electronic interception, being by nature a continuing rather than one-shot invasion, is even less discriminating than a physical search, because it picks up private conversations (most of which will usually have nothing to do with any illegal activity) over a long period of time.... [E]lectronic interception is thought to pose a greater potential threat to personal privacy than physical searches.... Television surveillance is identical in its indiscriminate character to wiretapping and bugging. Recorded Penalties cont…
IT Application Information technology is very powerful, so managers need to understand the legal implications to avoid issues similar to this one Managers may need to monitor employees' use of the company's technology, but must also be sensitive to the laws that protect individual privacy & rights Managers need to clearly define the allowed corporate & personal uses of its property & technology to avoid misunderstanding
Conclusion This case brings to light several legal & ethical issues that any IT user may encounter; especially managers. A take-away from this investigation is that although technology has many capabilities, users do not always have the right to use them to the fullest; even when the users are in an authoritative position.