Will Webcam Surveillance Cause Privacy Concerns?

By: John Honovich, Published on Feb 21, 2010

In the future, there will almost certainly be more webcams in laptops and smartphones than their are surveillance cameras. If those cameras are activated or transformed into surveillance devices, they will have a dramatic impact on society.

In Pennsylvania, USA, a surprising example of this is being displayed. Both the police and the FBI are investigating whether a school illegally activated webcams on student's laptops to monitor them in their homes. Read the lawsuit filed in courtWatch the video below for an overview of the situation:

From our review of the public information, it appears that the school agrees that it had software that it could active remotely to monitor laptops but the goal was only to use it on stolen laptops. The student suing claims otherwise. In an audio recording, the Assistant Principal of the school dramatically and vehemently denied the claim [link no longer available].

If the claims are true, it's clear against both laws and ethics in most countries. The claims are so egregious it's unlikely that many will overtly try this practice.

That being said, other schools use similar techniques. See the video below from a teacher demonstrating how they use it:

As video becomes easier to share outside of the local site, processes and technology to restrict its unauthorized access will become increasingly important.

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