The Philadelphia Inquirer has a long story about the history of the Lower Merion School District laptop spying case. The district was able to remotely and secretly turn on the webcams in the Mac laptops they gave to students; the district claims that they used the power solely to track computers reported stolen. Some parents and students question this claim.
When I activate the webcam on my laptop, a light comes on. According to Klaatu’s March 15 podcast, those Macs do not show when the camera is turned on.
One quotation sums up why many feel queasy about the school district’s power:
Network technician Michael Perbix, in computer forums and in a Webcast, would recount how he could hunt down and monitor the laptops without anyone knowing.
“If you’re controlling someone’s machine,” he said, “you don’t want them to know what you’re doing.”
I have not yet met a power that someone wasn’t tempted to abuse.