Anti-Big Brother Bill Up In NJ Senate Committee Today [AUDIO]
In what was dubbed, “Webcamgate,” the Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania allegedly used remotely activated cameras in laptops furnished by the school district to record the activity of students without their knowledge.
Images from the cameras were transmitted to administrators of the school district. The district settled a suit brought in the case. Today, in response to the Pennsylvania incident, a New Jersey senate committee is scheduled to consider “The Anti-Big Brother Act.”
The measure sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross requires a school district that furnishes a student with a laptop computer, cell telephone, or any other electronic device to provide the student with written notice that the electronic device may record or collect information on the student’s activity, or the student’s use of the device if it is equipped with a camera, global positioning system, or other feature capable of recording or collecting information.
Norcross explains, “When those parents in Lower Merion found out somebody was watching them (students) they certainly were thinking this is back to that (George Orwell) book, ‘1984.’”
The notice is required to have a form attached which provides for a parent or guardian signature acknowledging receipt of the form. The bill requires that the school district retain the signed form as long as the student uses the electronic device.
“In the old days they used to call them permission slips,” says Norcross. “If it can record or monitor all they have to do is provide written notice so the parents know.”
A school district that fails to provide the written notification required by this bill would be subject to a fine of $250.
Norcross says, “Parents need to know what their children are bringing home (from school) and this bill simply says they (school officials) have to notify the parents if the device can either record or monitor them.”