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Lower Merion School District Report: Web cams snapped 56,000 images

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kpete Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 09:17 AM
Original message
Lower Merion School District Report: Web cams snapped 56,000 images
Edited on Tue Apr-20-10 09:18 AM by kpete
Source: Philly.com

Lower Merion report: Web cams snapped 56,000 images

By John P. Martin

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Lower Merion School District employees activated the web cameras and tracking software on laptops they gave to high school students about 80 times in the past two school years, snapping nearly 56,000 images that included photos of students, pictures inside their homes and copies of the programs or files running on their screens, district investigators have concluded.

In most of the cases, technicians turned on the system after a student or staffer reported a laptop missing and turned it off when the machine was found, the investigators determined.

But in at least five instances, school employees let the Web cams keep clicking for days or weeks after students found their missing laptops, according to the review. Those computers - programmed to snap a photo and capture a screen shot every 15 minutes when the machine was on - fired nearly 13,000 images back to the school district servers.

The data, given to The Inquirer on Monday by a school district lawyer, represents the most detailed account yet of how and when Lower Merion used the remote tracking system, a practice that has sparked a civil rights lawsuit, an FBI investigation and new federal legislation.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20100419_Low...
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hobbit709 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 09:22 AM
Response to Original message
1. I can't wait for the response from the apologists.
If you need 56K+ images to track a laptop, then you're doing something wrong. A simple IP location would work for that.
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JTFrog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Screw every last one of the idiots defending this crap. May karma bite them in the ass. n/t
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #1
8. Oh, don't worry, I'm sure the
"bell" will be in here ringing shortly! :evilgrin:
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Lance_Boyle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
13. Please elaborate on this 'simple IP location.'
Are you saying that the laptops could be tracked to a physical location by IP address alone?

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Xenotime Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. It's how Obama gets the RW terrorists.
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comrade snarky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #13
30. They can, or at least to the address associated with the external IP
Say you have a house with an internet connection and a router. That router is connected to an Internet Service Provider and gets an IP address from that provider. In all the world that address in unique. Now the ISP sends you a bill so they know the physical address of the house and they have records that show what IP address was assigned to what customer. Even if that IP address changes every few days it's a simple thing to associate it with a location.

In my ideal world this shouldn't happen without the equivalent of a search warrant but far too often that's not the case. It's one of the ways the RIAA traces people to sue for sharing music.

If the school was really concerned about stolen laptops it would have been quite possible to have the laptop report back to the central system every external IP address it uses after the anti-theft system has been activated. That address could then be given to the police and traced through the ISP giving them the physical location of the laptop.

There are any number of applications used by the corporate world that do just that. They'll even erase the system or lock it down so the data cant be accessed.
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
2. it's the race for the top.....or to nudie teen pics nt
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WillParkinson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
3. I'm sure it was all completely innocent.
<snicker>

56,000 images. Just wow.
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woo me with science Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. delete. posted wrong place.
Edited on Tue Apr-20-10 10:05 AM by woo me with science
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woo me with science Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
6. The Robbins' attorney gave a statement this morning.
The only story I can find is from FOX news, but it contains some interesting stuff:

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/042010_L ...

...Mark Haltzman, who represents the family at the center of the lawsuit, reacted to the news Tuesday morning on "Good Day."

"...remember, that number, 56,000, is only what they've been able to recover. We know that there are many, many more pictures that we believe of even Blake Robbins alone, there's at least another 300 to 400 screenshots and webcam pictures that they haven't been able to recover or say that they haven't been able to recover."


...


Last week, Haltzman filed a motion to try and get Carol Cafiero, the district's former information technology supervisor, to turn over her personal computer and say what she knows about the use of the LANRev tracking software.

Haltzman said Cafiero declined to answer questions during a deposition, instead invoking her Fifth Amendment rights.

...Cafiero has an interview Tuesday with federal authorities, Fox 29 News has learned."




I have been reading a bunch of these articles, and we still don't seem to know if Cafiero has actually turned over her home computer yet.
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dbt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
7. Hey, kpete! You must have your posts moved the MOST!
Why do you even bother putting them in LBN anymore, knowing than SOME PEOPLE seem to have you in their personal crosshairs?

:hi:
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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
9. Number of reported LMSD webcam activations keeps rising
Philly.com updated the story a bit. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/91574799.htm...

(1) First, the district stated the webcams were activated 42 times "this year" and a number of times last year.

(2) Yesterday's article 04/19 states the cameras were activated "about 80 times in the past two school years."

(3) Today's article 04/20 states the Web cameras were activated "about 146 times during the last two school years".

So we've gone from 42 to 80 to 146 activations. How many activations are they going to report tomorrow? Next week?

In 48 of those activations, images were recovered; 68 showed only the computer's Internet address. The rest showed nothing or could not be recovered.
In most of the cases, technicians turned on the system after a student or staffer reported a laptop missing and turned it off when the machine was found, the investigators determined.

But in at least five instances, school employees let the Web cams keep clicking for days or weeks after students found their missing laptops, according to the review. Those computers - programmed to snap a photo and capture a screenshot every 15 minutes when the machine was on - fired nearly 13,000 images back to the school-district servers.

"This is where a significant mistake has been made," Henry Hockeimer, the district's lawyer, said at a school board meeting Monday night. "Clearly those trackings should have been turned off earlier."

Hockeimer said that the district's internal investigation was ongoing and that the numbers could change. He said the board authorized him to release the information in response to a court motion filed last week by Harriton High School sophomore Blake Robbins, whose lawsuit contends the program invaded his privacy.


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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. 146 activations--and not just images. They screencapped chats and IMs,too.
It just gets better.

The rumor here in Philly is that Carol Cafiero is supposed to have an FBI interview today....should be interesting.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 11:50 AM
Response to Original message
11. The school district's insurance company is trying to drop them, denying liability
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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Ooooh boy...
Every day that passes is just another nail in the coffin for the LMSD.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. And more and more parents, who initially defended the school, start
to question where they stood.

It will be interesting, because today the FBI is supposed to interview one of the administrators.
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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. So, tell me.. is this a Republican school district?
The reason I ask is all these parents who have "banded together" and are apparently more worried about having to pay higher taxes, rather than any violation of anyone's privacy.
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TorchTheWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 01:48 PM
Response to Reply #15
25. I don't know about Republican so much as selfish and greedy
Definitely selfish and greedy. Doesn't surprise me in the least that some of these parents care only about their wallets than anything else. I expected it. I also expect that some of these parents who are now more concerned about the possibility of having to pay higher taxes if they find out one of THEIR precious lambs were spied on they'll jump on the bandwagon against the school, and not so much because THEIR precious lambs were spied on but to get a chunk of that settlement pie for themselves.


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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #11
16. Since I'm in the legal field, and since I have nothing better
to do at the moment (well, that's not quite true, but I'm one of those weirdos who actually like reading this stuff in detail), I went ahead and read the entire complaint filed with the federal court that you just linked. And I have to say that it appears that the insurance company is well within its rights to demand a declaratory judgment absolving it of responsibility for paying any of the claims from the Robbins class action suit.

According to its policy, such acts by the district are not covered and were not meant to be covered. And the district's admins and its attorneys should have damn well known that from the beginning of their "project." The policy wording is very, very clear. This tells me that they likely just didn't think that they'd ever get caught or, if they were, that they'd be held accountable for it. What unmitigated arrogance.
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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. In your opinion.. is the insurer just doing CYA
Or do they believe the Robbins complaint has real merit?
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liberalhistorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. I think it's a little of both. But it looks like, from the complaint and
the relevant sections of the school's policy quoted in the complaint, that the insurance company really does have the right to ask for this declaratory judgment under the terms of the policy and that it really is not responsible for covering any damages that may be awarded due to the complaint. I can't believe I'm defending an insurance company, but, in this case, they're quite correct.
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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Thanks n/t
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woo me with science Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. What a mess, though.
Edited on Tue Apr-20-10 01:34 PM by woo me with science
I mean, if the PUBLIC school district is held liable and damages are assessed, doesn't that mean that the taxpayers will end up footing the bill?

I remember reading a few weeks back about some parents who were banding together against the Robbins family and the whole idea of a lawsuit because of concerns like that. They didn't want the school system in trouble, because it is already stressed financially, and any pain that results from this will likely be passed on from the people actually responsible to the people who are unlucky enough to have children there.

Have we heard anything about lawsuits against the individuals involved? I guess it is probably too early for that when they are still gathering information.

On another note, I wish even one news publication would be clear about whether Ms. Cafiero has actually turned over her home computer yet.

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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Cafiero took the Fifth on everything but her name..
At her deposition. She fought tooth and nail to avoid being deposed. She refused to turn over her home computer. I doubt she'll turn over anything without immunity, or a plea deal.

Unless she cracks.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Cafiero is being interviewed by the FBI today, per the local news.
So we shall see if she refuses to answer.
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MicaelS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #24
33. Cafiero talks, blames (student) Robbins and (co-worker) Perblix
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20100420_Fil...

Even in his own home, the Harriton High School sophomore had "no legitimate expectation of privacy" from the camera on his school-issued laptop, information systems coordinator Carol Cafiero contended in a court filing on Tuesday.

Cafiero - who is on paid leave while the district investigates the laptop controversy - claimed Robbins lost any legal protection from the Web-camera security system when he took a school laptop home without permission.

Robbins had previously broken "at least two" school computers and did not pay the insurance fee required to get permission to take home the Apple MacBook that later snapped his pictures, Cafiero's attorney, Charles Mandracchia, wrote in the filing.

"When you're in the home, you should have a legitimate expectation of privacy," Mandracchia said in an interview. "But if you're taking something without permission, how can you cry foul when you shouldn't have it anyway?"


More at link

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/lower-me...

Cafiero fought to contain her emotions as she read from a statement prepared by her lawyer. At no time did I ever independently, without authorization, turn on the webcam technology. I had no involvement whatsoever with the events surrounding the Blake Robbins computer. she stated.

Her lawyer, Charles Mandracchia, stressed the fact that she did not spy on students. He went on to say that Cafieros co-worker, Michael Perbix, handled the vast majority of school officials requests to turn on the webcams. He says she activated the cameras only twice this school year. The webcams were supposed to be activated only when the laptops disappeared or were stolen.

Cafiero did not turn over her personal computer today. He lawyer says she never downloaded any of the images from their webcams.

Fox 29 has tried to contact Michael Perbix. He is not commenting and referred us to his lawyer who is on vacation. We do know that Perbix was deposed by the Robbins family attorney.


More at link

Let's see:

(1) Blames the kid (victim).
(2) Blames her co-worker (1 of only two people who had the ability to turn the system off and on, she was the other).
(3) Still refuses to turn over computer.

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TorchTheWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 02:03 PM
Response to Reply #21
28. so far Cafiero hasn't turned it over and it looks like she won't
She asked the judge to sanction her for not turning it over rather than be forced to turn it over. According to her attorney she is apparently willing to allow an independent expert to examine it... under restrictions by her attorney, of course. That was the last I heard about that. I think the only way it will be taken from her is if the FBI seizes it.


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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. I have to agree with you, liberalhistorian.
The policy is pretty clear. If I were counsel for the insurance company, I would insist on NOT paying for the grossly negligent and possibly criminal actions of the insured.

LMSD has money---the school district is just gonna have to budget it.
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TorchTheWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #16
26. that's how I see it
Though it galls me to be defending an insurance company. And really, what insurance company would cover a client for illegal acts anyway? I don't even think they could even if for some whacky reason they wanted to.


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ProdigalJunkMail Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 02:02 PM
Response to Original message
27. where are all the quiet apologists for this crap
well...all two of them...

sP
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woo me with science Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 02:10 PM
Response to Reply #27
29. One is busy being celebrated in her own thread on GD:P
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

As for the other one, I expect she'll show up eventually. Strength of argument usually has very little correlation with her willingness to participate.
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JTFrog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 04:08 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. Yea, that made me throw up a little in my mouth. n/t
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PCIntern Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-20-10 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. I was actually thinking of starting an appreciation thread for the other...
a little bit of Bizarro world is kinda funny...

this whole business is gonna get a lot uglier and it had best better not involve my kid's computer...someone asked me if I'd gotten a phone call or letter from the district, and I repeat; I had best better not...(sic) and (sick).
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