Archive: February, 2010
It seems like no Vietnamese places deliver. What's the deal?
On Feb.11, a student filed a class-action lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District alleging "invasion of Plaintiffs' privacy, theft of Plaintiffs' private information and unlawful interception and access to acquired and exported data and other stored electronic communications â¦ "
Basically, the gist of the complaint is this: The school district issues each of its students a laptop computer to take home (which is actually pretty cool). These laptops contain webcams. According to the suit, "Defendants [that is, the school district] have been spying on Plaintiffs â¦ by Defendants' indiscriminate use of and ability to remotely activate the webcams incorporated into each laptop issued to students by the School District."
Lead plaintiff Blake Robbins, a student at Harriton High School, learned about all of this on Nov. 11, 2009, the suit says, when assistant principal Lindy Matsko "informed [Robbins] that the School District was of the belief that [Robbins] was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in [Robbins'] personal laptop issued by the School District. â¦ [T]he School District, in fact, has the ability to remotely activate the webcam contained in a student's personal laptop computer â¦ at any time it chose and to view and capture whatever images were in front of the webcam â¦ ."
The nature of Robbins' alleged misbehavior isn't clear from the lawsuit; we're going to dig into this story a bit more in the near future. (I may have missed something, but so far the only media attention this story has gotten, that I've seen, anyway, came from BoingBoing. You can read the lawsuit yourself here, or the DailyKossacks' reaction to the BoingBoing story here.) We'll be trying to get comments from Robbins and/or the School District up here today. But if this story is at all true â¦ holy shit. Spying on kids, in their bedrooms? What if they, you know, decide to change clothing? It's one thing to track how students use school district property â if they're visiting hardcore porn sites or whatever â it's quite another to use a webcam to monitor and capture their daily activities, outside of school, in the supposed privacy of their own homes.
Again, with the caveat that what is alleged above actually happened, and with the risk of rushing to judgment, Matsko and every single member of the Lower Merion School District who signed off on this scheme needs to be sacked, yesterday. I can't imagine a more asinine invasion of students' privacy. George Orwell would be proud.
We'll update as updates come in.
UPDATE: The Inky and DN both have their stories up. (Not for nothing, but we beat them by a good hour. Ha!) And while the school district has yet to return our calls â though they promised to, soon â a spokesman told the Inquirer:
"This is the first we have heard of this lawsuit being filed and the plaintiff's allegations," he said today. "However, we can categorically state that we are - and have always been - committed to protecting the privacy of our students."
"Our district was one of the first to provide free laptops to all of our high school students," Young said. "This initiative has been incredibly successful and well received in our school community."
"We have referred this matter to our attorneys for appropriate legal action and plan to communicate with parents and students with more information as it becomes available."
We have calls out to the kid's attorneys, too. If they tell us anything useful, we'll post.
Christine Adkins here with your morning fix:
Though the immovable snow in Philly is making parking more of a nightmare than ever, it is technically illegal to save dug out parking spaces with chairs and cones. Luckily, police are turning a blind eye to the law for the time being.
Man Overboard!, however, is not. In this week's column, Isaiah Thompson delves into the ethics of this very thorny issue, and asks you, Good and True People of Philadelphia, to render a verdict.
Eight of the 10 US missionaries are released in Haiti three weeks after they were arrested on charges of kidnapping a group of children from the quake-stricken country to bring back to America.
There is indeed a "sport" called Sport Stacking, and a cup-stacking mother-son team from York County won big at the Mid Atlantic Regional competition.
Scientists are researching the way sea slugs store memories in proteins in hopes of creating new memory-enhancing treatments.
For the first time since his Thanksgiving car accident, Tiger Woods will speak publicly tomorrow about the sex scandal that engrossed the nation for months.
There's a growing market for journalists who were found themselves at the receiving end of downsizing efforts. Head to Connecticut, where entrepreneurial local online journalism is thriving.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act celebrates its first birthday! Festivities included Obama's remarks on the success of the stimulus legislation and a White House report highlighting the economic effects of the act.
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon may have carried out his last mass unification marriage ceremony, as they are losing their flavor among younger generations who want more say in who they marry. Go figure.
The Eagles' Stacy Andrews, after missing most of last season with several injuries, needs to restructure his six-year contract if he hopes to join the team in preseason this August.
For the first time in history, US Border Patrol agents and Mexican Federal Police are teaming up for a joint attack against incoming drug shipments and outgoing cash flows. Like everything else in the history of drug interdiction, this, too, shall fail.
Askadelphia. Question of the Day: Closest place to South Philly to pick up a hi-hat clutch for a drum kit?
I live about a block away from the Italian Market and need to pick up a hi-hat clutch for my drum kit before I have band practice tonight. I have about a 20 minute window in which to do this after work , so it has to be close by! Somewhere that isn't Center City would be a plus, as it might take me 20 minutes just to find meter parking. Thanks!
Lara Coleman here with your morning fix:
While facing possible civil penalties and media pressure after recalling over 8.5 million vehicles, Toyota is considering increasing that number after hearing complaints about power steering problems in the Corolla.
After a two-year study, scientists now believe that King Tut's death was caused by malaria.
A New Jersey man abducted his baby from her maternal grandmother's house yesterday around 4:30 p.m. and told police that he threw her off the parkway's Driscll Bridge in Middlesex County. Police have been searching since 9 p.m. last night.
Economists are now calling the national debt worse than ever before, reporting that it will now have extreme consequences for taxpayers including ridiculous tax increases and a lower standard of living for future generations.
More cheery news: By 2014, the interest payments on the national debt will exceed Congress's discretionary funding. The chief culprits? The recession, and Bush-era economic policies. Thanks, Republicans.
Scottish terrier Sadie wins the Westminster Dog Show, beating over 2,500 other dogs. Suck it, poodles.
Fashion designer Alexander McQueen hung himself in his apartment after leaving a suicide note.
Yesterday, a flash mob of about 100 teens wreaked havoc at The Gallery mall, in particular Macy's, on Market and 13th, leaving one teen hospitalized and over a dozen in jail.
International arrest warrants have finally been issued for 11 suspects of assassinating a Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Mabhough, in Dubai last month.
The New York Times is investigating allegations that one of its reporters plagiarized from The Wall Street Journal.
Germany is keeping it interesting, as they surpass the United States in the Medal Count by one medal.
Christine Adkins here with your morning fix:
The US leads the Olympics in overall medals won, but Switzerland currently has the most gold medals.
Speaking of Olympic medals, did you know this year's were made of landfill-bound electronics? Environment win.
Charged in the murders of three University professors, University of Alabama-Huntsville professor Amy Bishop Anderson was originally a suspect in a 1993 bomb attempt on one of her former colleagues.
Ricky, a West Caln Township K-9 who protected two presidents, had to be put down after his owner discovered a soft-ball sized tumor in his spleen. Sad face.
Twelve Afghani civilians died when a high-tech military rocket missed its target. Sorry about that.
Gastric bypass surgery, though still considered an experimental surgery on children, could be the next step in fighting adolescent obesity.
The economy's reverberations are felt on private college campuses, where schools are hacking away at their financial aid programs. Say hello to crushing student loan debt, kids.
Urban citizens are battling their rural neighbors, claiming that allowing the US Census to count prisoners as residents of the town in which their prison resides instead of their actual hometown inflates the population numbers of these heavily white areas.
According to the California Institute of Technology, fruit flies have brains; the first recordings of their brain activity have been studied while in flight and at rest.
And the NY Times, in its classic, understated way, gives tea-baggers some rope and lets them hang themselves on their own crazy.
|Save the Pits|
|Hate 'em or love 'em, you have to admit: Aww.|
When the Philadelphia Eagles gave Michael Vick his job back last year, we all kinda wondered: Would this, in some strange way, help the animal rights cause? It's an impossible thing to quantify, of course, but having someone to hate often brings people together â and the dialogue around dog-fighting sure seems to have increased in Philly in the past few months.
There is at least one concrete animal-rights benefit that's taken place: In August, in direct response to Vick's signing, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) launched the 2nd Chance Dog Campaign. It ended last Sunday, and, according to the SPCA, raised $116,234 â slightly more than its $100,00 goal â and gave 832 pit bulls and pit bull mixes homes or put them "in foster care, with rescue groups or with new adoptive families."
Erm, thanks, Vick?
News is breaking that Lancaster native Floyd Landis, who won the 2006 Tour de France and was then stripped of his title for testing positive for elevated testosterone levels, has had an arrest warrant issued against him.
According to an AP report, "French judge Thomas Cassuto is seeking to question Landis about computer hacking dating back to September 2006."
(h/t Jon Solomon)
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