What is a Webcam? Webcams range from simple to complex A simple Webcam setup consists of a digital camera attached to a computer, typically through the USB port Camera portion is a simple digital camera The "Webcam" nature of the camera comes with the software Software "grabs a frame" from the digital camera at a preset interval and transfers it to another location for viewing Streaming videos require a minimum rate (interval) of at least 15 frames per second (fps), while 30 fps is ideal Software broadcasts the image (or video) over your Internet connection Can be viewed via internet on multiple computers at the same time
What Kinds of Webcams are There? Type of WebcamFunction(s) Streaming WebcamUsed for video chats, conferences Shows images in a constant “stream” like television Used for security purposes Snapshot WebcamTakes a picture and refreshes it every few seconds or minutes Presents better image quality than streaming cams. CompanyWebcams Produced MicrosoftLifeCam VX-5000 LifeCam Cinema LifeCam VX-1000 LifeCam NX-3000 (for Notebooks) LogitechQuickCam C905 QuickCam Orbit Webcam C600 Hewlett-PackardKQ246AA 8.0 MP Deluxe Webcam Popular Webcams
How Do People Spy with Webcams? Many Trojan horses and other malware programs can be used to take remote control of a computer and turn on webcams unnoticed According to Mike Geide, senior security researcher at cloud security company Zscaler, "there are several exploit kits out there that include rootkit functionality that allow (people) to interact with the operating system however they want, and that includes turning on specific services or running applications in the background that would include applications to report Webcams, record audio, or turn on a built-in internal microphone.” “Games” that mislead users into clicking a link that can remotely control a user’s webcam and microphone Some security software cannot counter or acknowledge the hijacking I SEE YOU!
Recently in the News Recently, the School District of Lower Merion in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, was alleged of violating a student’s privacy via Webcams. The district issued laptops to high school students as part of a technology initiative, and did not notify families the laptops were equipped with Webcams that could be turned on remotely.
Two Sides of the Story Reasons People Agree with the Law Suit: Reasons People Disagree with the Law Suit: Feel violated and uninformed Feel actions were unconstitutional Feel School district abused its power Feel privacy has been compromised See no benefit of a class action suit Concern over financial impact school will face (will lead to cutbacks, layoffs) Feel teacher had good intentions * Although most parents disagree with the school district using webcams to spy on students, most parents do not want a lawsuit filed. Nearly 500 parents from the district have organized a petition opposing the lawsuit. These parents say they are angry about the webcams, but are concerned about the financial impact of a class- action settlement. *
Why I am Against School Districts Using Webcams to Spy
What is Being Done at Lower Merion School District? Since the national coverage of this story, as well as the parental and community outcry, the school district has disabled its remote monitoring capabilities al together. A motion was filed, and presumably will pass, that is designed to keep any pictures that were gathered through the district’s accessing of students’ laptop computers out of the hands of the public. Carol Cafiero, one of two Lower Merion school officials responsible for using the technology, has been under FBI interrogation, with a deposition scheduled Friday, April 9. Family of student who was spied on and falsely accused of selling and using drugs are still pushing for their potentially devastating lawsuit against the school district. Many parents and community members are organizing to protect the teacher and the school district fearing the financial burden a court case would cause this school, which happens to be facing another lawsuit in the context of racial discrimination.
References Layton, Julia. "How Webcams Work." 01 April 2000. HowStuffWorks.com. 01 April 2010. "Top Ten Webcams Voted by Consumer Reviewers." IntelliReview. March 2010. Web. 5 April 2010.. Clarke, Suzan. "Pa. School Faces FBI Probe, Lawsuit, for Using Webcams on Laptops to Watch Students at Home: Internet Security Expert Says District May Have Gone Too Far." ABCNewsonline. 22 February 2010:.Web. 6 April 2010. . "Pa. School Accused of Spying on Students." http://www.youtube.com. Web. 6 April 2010.. Prince, Brian. "School District Accused of Webcam Spying." eWeek. 18 February 2010: Web. 6 April 2010. . Magid, Larry. "Webcams Spying: It's More than Software." CBSNews 23 February 2010: Web. 7 April 2010.. Associated Press. "Parents Oppose School Webcam Lawsuit." CBSNews 18 March 2010: Web. 8 April 2010.. Ilgenfritz, Richard. "Judge orders LMSD Administrator for Deposition." Main Line Media News 07 April 2010: Web. 8 April 2010. . Segall, Brad. "Attorneys Move to Keep Lower Merion Spycam Pictures Confidential." KYW News 05 April 2010: Web. 8 Apr 2010. .