Sunday, 21 February 2010

Orwell clearly lives...

Courtesy of my friend Aaron, who I'm not sure wants his blog linked to so I won't, comes this story of a US school district giving each student a laptop to help with their homework. What, you may ask, is wrong with that? Well, the kicker is that each computer had a webcam. So far so normal in newer computers - even I have one, although have so far resisted the temptation to do any real camwhoring on this blog for some reason. These webcams, however, were fixed to be constantly on and streaming images back to the school district. This was discovered when a boy was called into the principals office and bollocked for 'inappropriate behaviour at home', which apparently entailed eating sweets that could - to the uninitiated (and dare I say it paranoid) on a crappy webcam connection - be mistaken for certain illegal or prescription-only substances. Now, fair enough, schools have always had some level of monitoring on pupils' behaviour outside, but until now that has been limited to extreme cases or actions in public in school uniform. Aaron raises the issue of what would happen if a child was caught on camera changing clothes or masturbating, and this is a valid point - does anyone consistently remember to shut the computer off while changing their top? Personally I leave mine to boot up while dressing in the morning on a weekday. (with the webcam switched to OFF as the default) If the boy had been wanking, would he have been called in over that? What if there was some healthy eating kick that meant eating sweets at home could qualify as a real offence? I can't see any redeeming features with this idea.

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