According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families.
If you read the Court filing you find this:
On November 11, 2009, Plaintiffs were for the first time informed of the above-mentioned capability and practice when Lindy Matsko, an assistant pricipal at Harrison High School, informed minor plaintiff that the school district was of the belief that minor Plaintiff was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in minor Plaintiff's personal laptop issued by the school district.
There are two things about this that seem very odd:
1) That the assistant principal would never use simple empathy to understand how wrong this practice is, never mind all the laws being broken.
2) That the school district would have the time/resources to monitor so many web cams. It seems impossible that such resources would be available, so it is more likely that the assistant principal was randomly activating cameras to create the ultimate peep show.
If a school district can do it, it seems obvious that employers can do it with company-issued laptops. Which is even creepier. Keep in mind that even if your laptop doesn't have a camera, it almost certainly has a mic. It is also easy (and common) for employers to install keystroke logging software, website tracking software, etc.
In theory your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse could configure your laptop to do the same thing.
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