Tarheeltalker

Worse than the NSA?

There are fewer agencies worse than the evil  NSA in the liberal mind. But, located in Philadelphia’s historic Main Line suburbs( read that as very wealthy) is an agency that may give the NSA folks a run for their money. What possibly could be located there and do anything covert? Why, it is the Lower Merion School District under the leadership of Dr Christopher W McGinley.

From his  photo, the superintendent does not look at all subversive. But, it appears that appearances may be a bit deceiving in this case.

Being an affluent school district, Lower Merion thought it was  a good idea to issue Apple laptops to the 2,300 students at its two high schools. The first of many questions is why? One would think that the vast majority of  the students in such an affluent area could afford their own or may already have a laptop.

The “district” laptops have a security feature, deactivated yesterday according to McGinley, intended to track lost , missing or stolen laptops. This feature existed without the knowledge of the students or their parents. It was supposedly used 42 times in the last 14 months. What is the security feature, a remotely activated webcam. Question# 2, no one saw the potential for a problem here? And why was no one informed, say parents?

We move on. Only two employees on the system’s technology department were authorized to activate the feature, says system spokesman Doug Young.

We move next to the case of Hariton High student Blake Robbins. It seems that young Mr Robbins, trough use of the webcam, though he was” engaged in improper behavior in his home.” Wonder what that was and what business of theirs was it to arbitrate such?  According to te lawsuit that has now been filed, vice principal Lindy Matsko cited a photograph ” embedded” in his school issued laptop.

I am normally opposed to what I consider our suit  happy culture, but it seems that the Robbins family might just have a decent case.

Dr McGinley posted a letter on the district website yesterday that among other things stated that there would be a thorough review of the policies that led to this situation.

If this could happen in  a district that says it has a “longstanding reputation as one of the finest school systems in the United States,” it could easily be repeated since school systems could be said to be prolific copycats.

In all honesty, this is a scary, scary thing and I  hope that “it has been nipped in the bud” to quote our old friend Barney Fife.

Dr McGinley

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February 19, 2010 Posted by | education, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments