Remember the story about the school district that spied on its students at home? Well it just got boringer. Now that the lawyers are involved and some of the IT guys have been put on leave, this he said/she said/school officials saw story has just jumped the shark.
To recap: The Lower Merion School District gave their students MacBooks. The MacBooks had a theft protection system built in designed to capture images of the laptop’s surroundings in the case of a theft. The school district instead took pictures of a kid eating Mike&Ikes at home and accused him of being a pill popper. Essentially, the school spied on a student at home and is claiming it was only trying to recover a stolen laptop. As we later learned, however, some school officials enjoyed turning on the cameras just to freak the kids out, a decidedly Orwellian thing.
Well, now the story is just dull. Lawyers for both sides are at each others proverbial throats and the resulting accusations and recriminations are pretty low-key. For example, the IT guys responsible for the software are now on administrative leave with pay and everything is trying to figure out who else to sue.
What this story tells us is that there is an insidious lure to surveillance technology that, in the end, bites the surveiller. The value of the panopticon is that the surveilled cannot tell when they’re being watched but when the surveilled aren’t prisoners in some horrible, 18th-century prison invented by Jeremy Bentham and are instead high school kids, things get a little hairy.