Remember how the left came emotionally unglued over George Bush approving the eavesdropping of phone calls to the US from known terrorists overseas?
You’d have thought that Bush had gone to the Library of Congress and personally torn apart the original copy of the Constitution. And then defecated on the pieces.
Of course, monitoring the phone calls from foreign terrorists wanting to have an obviously nice, harmless chat with someone in America was terrible. And of course, liberal school districts using cameras to record children in the privacy of their own bedrooms and bathrooms in their own homes is perfectly appropriate.
I go with not.
Big Teacher Is Watching You
February 24, 2010 – by Jeff Schreiber
My laptop’s webcam now has a postage stamp covering it. Does yours?
This week, a district court judge in Philadelphia, PA, had to do the unthinkable: issue an order preventing a school district from further remote reactivation of webcams on laptop computers issued to nearly 2,000 high school students, a practice which has left many students and parents wondering whether school administrators had unfettered access into their homes and lives.
Just last week, a high school sophomore named Blake Robbins filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against the Lower Merion School District, the wealthy destination district on Philadelphia’s prestigious Main Line which gave the world numerous doctors, lawyers, financial managers — and Kobe Bryant. The school district, Robbins alleges, has been spying on students and students’ families in their own homes by means of remote access to webcam-equipped laptop computers provided to all students through an initiative funded largely by federal and state grants.
Neither students nor parents were provided notice by Lower Merion School District about the remote-access capability when the computers were distributed or at any other time. Robbins and his family only discovered the capability when the 15-year-old was approached at school by an assistant principal at Harriton High School and accused of engaging in “improper behavior” in his own home.
A photograph captured by Robbins’ laptop webcam was offered as evidence. The “improper behavior” which so concerned school administrators? Assistant Principal Lindy Matsko pointed to what looked like prescription drugs being held by Robbins in the photograph and voiced concern that he was selling drugs; in reality, Robbins was eating his favorite candy, Mike & Ikes, while at the computer in his own home.
Lower Merion School District, Robbins claims, has violated a long list of federal and state laws designed to protect personal privacy and stored information, including but not limited to the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, §1983 of the Civil Rights Act, the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, and Pennsylvania common law. And then, of course, there’s the matter of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Even for those who do not read a bona fide right to privacy into the Constitution, considering that the Fourth Amendment was written and drafted by our founders in response to the practice so many years before of British soldiers who conducted warrantless searches of colonists’ homes in search of signs of smuggling, that this case features an overreaching school district peering into private homes without notice or consent, all in search of “improper behavior” of the sort that Robbins was confronted with, should be cause for alarm for anyone who values liberty and individual freedom.
In the week which has followed the filing of the complaint, a number of students have come forward to say that either they noticed a green light indicating an active camera illuminate arbitrarily, or that they may not have noticed the light but often have the laptop open in their bedrooms, or even in their bathrooms, where music from iTunes can make showering more enjoyable for anyone who belts out Lady Gaga tunes into their shampoo bottle.
Most curious, though, has been the response from Lower Merion School District. Almost two days after the class action complaint was filed, the district released a statement on its website admitting to nearly every allegation made by Blake Robbins and his attorney.
By saying that “[t]he laptops do contain a security feature intended to track lost, stolen and missing laptops,” the district admitted that it did indeed have the capability to remotely access portals into students’ private lives. By saying that “[t]his feature has been deactivated effective today,” the district admitted that the capability had indeed been active. By saying that “the feature was activated by the District’s security and technology departments,” administrators admitted that the feature can be activated at their own discretion, and by saying that future activation of the remote access capability would not occur “without express written notification to all students and families,” the district admitted that it had peered into private homes with neither notification nor consent.
In fact, perhaps the biggest fight the school district has put up was this week in the hearing preceding the issuance of the order, when the lead counsel for Lower Merion School District voiced concern over the language of any order issued by the court.
“We don’t want it to be called an ‘injunction,’” said lead counsel Henry Hockheimer Jr. of Philadelphia law firm Ballard Spahr, noting that his clients had similar reservations about words like “enjoined,” preferring the more innocuous “prohibited.” Judge Jan E. DuBois agreed, waving his robed arm high along an imaginary marquee, saying that he understood the district wanting to avoid certain types of headlines.
Is it possible that the school district is not quite fully aware of the trouble it’s in? For the most part, after all, educators sit on the far left of the traditional political spectrum, a place where most of their immediate ideological neighbors share the notion that government knows better than the individual, and that schools and school administrators in their infinite wisdom can parent better than parents. Is it really so outlandish to consider that officials at Lower Merion School District wholeheartedly believed not only that it was their right to police its own population — even at home — in search of possible wrongdoing, but that they were looking out for the best interests of their students by doing so?
Looking around Courtroom 12-B yesterday afternoon, I became acutely aware that of the four laptops in the room, my own was not the only one with an obscured webcam. Walking through a common area at my law school later yesterday evening, I noticed even more.
Whatever the reasoning, whether the lens obstruction is symbolic in nature — mine sports a “forever” first class stamp prominently featuring a photo of the Liberty Bell — or if the concern for privacy is actual, it is clear in the suburbs of Philadelphia that the Nanny State is alive and well, and that even in school districts where the students seem to have everything, true freedom and liberty can still be elusive.
In case your eyes popped out of your head as you were reading the paragraph about the public school official freaking out over a student eating Mike & Ike candy in his bedroom, it’s really true.
I think of the Democrats who attacked Bush over his “irresponsible” deficits. I remember the words of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from March 16, 2006:
“The deterioration of the federal government’s finances is the direct result of the misguided priorities of this administration and this rubber stamping republican Congress. these deficits have resulted in an unprecedented and dangerous borrowing spree.”
Mr. Obama cannot dismiss critics by pointing to President George W. Bush’s decision to run $2.9 trillion in deficits while fighting two wars and dealing with 9/11 and Katrina. Mr. Obama will surpass Mr. Bush’s eight-year total in his first 20 months and 11 days in office, adding $3.2 trillion to the national debt. If America “cannot and will not sustain” deficits like Mr. Bush’s, as Mr. Obama said during the campaign, how can Mr. Obama sustain the geometrically larger ones he’s flogging?
I think of Democrats lambasting the tactic of reconciliation (which the media called “the nuclear option” when Republicans considered using it to underscore just how extreme it was), only to now hypocritically and deceitfully repudiate everything they claimed to stand for.
What was it that Joe Biden said about the procedure he’s all in favor of now?
Joe Biden 5/23/2005: “This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab.”
It’s a moment of truth for the United States Senate.
Today, Senate Democrats represent the last check on President Bush’s power.
Republicans want to eliminate this check and give President Bush power no president has ever had — the ability to hand out lifetime federal judgeships without consensus from the other party. [...]
A government in which one party has control over all decisions is bad for America and bad for all our people.
Our country works better when we cooperate and work towards compromises that benefit the greater good and not one group over another.
What we are seeing now is the most vile hypocrisy – perpetuated by Democrats against their very own rhetoric. Democrats essentially are saying, “Republicans shouldn’t use the nuclear option because they aren’t treasonous slime. WE ARE TREASONOUS SLIME, so we feel fine using it.”
For the record, the Republicans did not use the “nuclear option” in that instance, nor have they ever used it in anything remotely close to the way that Democrats are talking about using it now.
How do Democrats’ skulls not explode from trying to contain all the contradictions?
Why is it that the mainstream media is never around to confront these dishonest hypocrites when they daily spew their demagoguery?
This not only amply demonstrates what totalitarian big government fascists liberals are, but it also illustrates another important conservative doctrine: that if you give Democrats power over your life by accepting their bribes and their free lunches, they will own you.
You take their programs – or their computers – you unknowingly welcome their spying eyes and their chains. Because everything they give you, they can take away.
Statements from our founding fathers such as this one from Samuel Adams -
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”
- are being illustrated in their supreme wisdom more and more every day.
Tags: Blake Robbins, Bush, Bush deficits, deficits, Democrats, eavesdropping, foreign, high school students, hypocrisy, improper behavior, laptop computers, liberals, Lower Merion School District, Mike & Ikes, nuclear option, overseas, own homes, Philadelphia, phone conversations, privacy, reconciliation, terrorists, webcams