Monday, February 22, 2010

Web spying / Cell Phone Risk / "Dialing up danger" / 18th diagnosed / Children's Wireless Protection Act

Very unsettling - I would caution anyone with a computer that has a built in or add on camera and mic to be sure they are turned off when not in use.

US school accused of web spying

By Angela Harrison 
BBC News education reporter

boy on laptop
The school district says the laptops had a "security device"

Parents in the US have accused a school of spying on children by remotely activating webcams on laptops.

A couple from Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit against a school district which gave laptops to its high school pupils.

They say their son was told off by teachers for "engaging in improper behaviour in his home" and that the evidence was an image from his webcam.

Lower Merion School District says it has now deactivated a tracking device installed on the laptops.

It says the security feature was only used to track lost, stolen and missing laptops.

But it was deactivated on Thursday and would not be re-instated without informing students and families, the district said.

'Stages of undress'

The Lower Merion School District gave the laptops to all 1,800 students at its two high schools with the aim of giving them access to school resources around the clock, according to its website.

Michael and Holly Robbins are suing the district on behalf of their child and all the children in the district issued with the laptops.

They allege the school district invaded their privacy and are guilty of "wiretapping" by putting children under covert surveillance.

 Images captured may consist of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including in various stages of dress or undress 
Lawsuit claims

In their lawsuit, they claim the webcams were activated remotely and images were taken which could have included anything going on in a room where the laptop was placed.

The legal papers say: "As the laptops were routinely used by students and family members at home, it is believed that many of the images captured and intercepted may consist of images of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including in various stages of dress or undress".

On Thursday, the Lower Merion School District posted a letter to parents on its website saying it had always "gone to great lengths" to protect the privacy of its students.

In it, the Schools Superintendent Christopher McGinley gives details of the security feature, which he said was activated only if a laptop was reported lost, stolen or missing.

"The security feature's capabilities were limited to taking a still image of the operator and the operator's screen," he wrote.

"This feature was only used for the narrow purpose of locating a lost, stolen or missing laptop. The District never activated the security feature for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever."

However, the district had carried out a preliminary review of security procedures and had disabled the security-tracking program, he added.

The district would now conduct a thorough review of the existing policies for student laptop use and look at any other "technology areas in which the intersection of privacy and security may come into play".

"We regret if this situation has caused any concern or inconvenience among our students and families, " he said.


are added. It is recommended to install computer labs with shielded power cables and without Wi-Fi. Provide information about the social and health risks ...
Professor: Cell phone users are potentially "dialing up danger"

Posted: Feb 18, 2010 04:08 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A professor at UAlbany is speaking out about the potential health risks of using a cell phone.

Dr. David Carpenter is the director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany. He is also a leading expert in the field of electromagnetic radiation, which is the energy emitted by cell phones.

Dr. Carpenter claims there's a strong link between brain tumors and cell phone use, and says children could be the most at risk.

"In teenagers who use these cell phones a lot, it appears that you can actually see the significant increase in brain tumors even after one year of use," Dr. Carpenter told NEWS10. "If you are under the age of 20 when you start to use a cell phone, your risk is five times greater than if you are an adult."

Stay with NEWS10 for more on this story.

ABC staffer is 18th diagnosed with breast cancer

ANOTHER former Brisbane ABC staff member has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The ABC abandoned its Toowong studios in Brisbane in late 2006 after female employees recorded breast cancer rates six times the national average.

Tests have failed to uncover the cause of the cluster.

ABC Queensland news editor Bernard Bowen said the latest woman to test positive to breast cancer was in her mid-forties and worked in the television newsroom for about seven years in the 1990s.

At least 18 women who worked at the Toowong site after 1994 have been diagnosed with the disease.

Mr Bowen said public health expert Bruce Armstrong, who headed the panel investigating the ABC cluster, had been made aware of the latest diagnosis.

``It is still a source of frustration to us all that no cause has ever been established ... and in all probability won't ever be,'' Mr Bowen said.

Children's Wireless Protection Act
Dear People;

Surprise, surprise...there is currently a blocking campaign in Maine being conducted by Telecom industry.  They are lobbying heavily against The Children's Wireless Protection Act, the bill calling for a brain cancer warning label on all cell phones in the state of Maine.  Hearings are scheduled for next week, March 2nd.  If you would like to write an email in support of the bill or give the voting members of the committee a call in support, or both, we think it would be helpful at this point.  If you email, it can be a brief personal story or even just a sentence or two about why you support the bill.  Some of you are on this list are victims, some are scientists who's careers have been adversely affected because your findings were contrary to industry profits, some of you have kids, some of you use your cell phone occupationally, some of you live in a different state or country, but all of us are affected by our own cell phone use, and all of us have the potential to be affected by the passage (or not) of this bill.  We believe given fair warning about this product, many of us would have changed our cell phone behaviour in the past or those who don't yet know, would in the future use it more cautiously, like with a headset, or for emergencies only, as the manuals state (not the advertisements).

Here are the email addresses of the committee members who will be hearing the bill on March 2nd.  Just your personal sincerity on this issue is all that is necessary.  And as a reminder, kindness and gratitude are always a winning get more bees with honey!

And speaking of which, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP WITH THIS!!!  We really need it!!! 

Sincerely, Liz and the whole entire team who is working tirelessly to get this bill passed!

PS, For those who don't know, D is Democrat, R is Republican

You can either send them each an email individually or to make things easier, you can just highlight the below info and delete their #'s and just send them all at once, or another alternative is you can address your email to the members of the HHS committee and this person...

who will distribute them in their boxes for you, but I always feel more comfortable going direct just to reduce the possibility of error.


Joseph Brannigan – D Chair
Business – 207-874-1080  H – 207-772-6047

Lisa Marrache – D

Peter Mills – R
Courtney – assistant law firm


Anne Perry – D Chair
(207) 454-7338 cell,  (207) 214-7000 7338, home

Patricia Jones – D
207-512-5102 h 

Mark Eves – D
207-676-1001 h, 850-0516 o

Mathew Peterson – D
207-776-8051 cell

Linda Sanborn – D
207-839-4664 h, 939-2879 c

Peter Stuckey – D

Sarah Lewin – R

James Campbell – R

Henry Joy – R
207-463-2507 h,

Meredith Strang Burgess -  R
207-829-6264, h, 831-5227 c

Donald Soctomah – Passamaquoddy Tribe
(207) 214-4051
Business Telephone: (207) 796-2301 or 853-2600