Debate: Is Remote Accessing Student Webcams Remotely Legal?

By Glenn and Jake 

Last week in Philadelphia, a case about student privacy rights shook the moral fabric of an entire nation. An article from the internet states:
In this case, it is alleged that the Vice Principal of Harrington High School in Pennsylvania used a picture, taken from the webcam of the 15-year-old student’s school-issued computer, to support the claim that the student had engaged in inappropriate behavior in his home. In order to take the picture the school remotely activated the student’s webcam.

As webcams become more common (now being a standard feature for laptops), the news stories about remotely accessing webcams become numerous. Obviously spying is illegal and immoral (being a Christian I think I know something about morality), but what if you own the webcam you are accessing? We hope to clear up this legal gray area before our court system is able to get its blood-stained hands on this extremely controversial hot button issue.

Glenn: I saw this story on MSNBC recently and screamed at the TV in anger - because the story wasn't about Tiger Woods and because it violated the privacy rights of students. Who do these school administrators think they are? I'm happy that kids are getting laptops - it means they don't have to steal their father's Hustler Humor anymore - but the idea that someone at the school can remotely operate the webcam to spy on kids while they are in the bathroom is repulsive.

I've seen the movie Kids and I understand that most people near the age of 15 are rapists and HIV holders, but the answer to that isn't to spy on them. If you do that, you're violating the privacy rights of the children who have never done anything wrong. When I was 15, for example, I had never even talked to a girl let alone given one HIV. So why should I be spied upon while I stay up until 5am in wrestling chat rooms? This is a gross overreach of school administrators who want to control every aspect of their students' lives.

Jake: The principal of this school owned that webcam. He's allowed to turn it on whenever he wants in order to watch children pleasure themselves, each other or their principals. It is his right as a freedom-loving American to access his webcam. I'm no lawyer, but isn't possession 9/10ths of the law?

Remotely accessing a webcam is not exactly the same as spying, just incredibly similar. If I had given Glenn a laptop I would definitely remotely access the webcam. I feel that it is my right. Yet if I have the balls to call him out on some of the wacky shit he was doing while I spied, I would deserve punishment. If the principal committed one crime it was not spying on kids, it was telling them he was remotely accessing his webcam that the student was using.

Glenn: If this is a crime, it is a crime of passion - the passion of adult men wanting to view young children using a laptop computer. If this was just happening at schools during class time, I could get it. I know in college I always used to check during computer class and rate people while my teacher was trying to teach us how to prepare our home PCs for Y2K. There is a legitimate educational use for them turning on the webcam during class to see just what kids are doing. But in the privacy of their own homes? Shouldn't a parent decide whether or not to watch a sleeping child? I slept with a baby monitor in my room until I was 13. I didn't like it, but it was my parents' right to know I was still breathing. Not my school principal's.

Jake: We don't exactly know the circumstances in this case, or at least I don't. I only read the opening paragraph of the news story. I imagine that the student was video chatting (strap yourself in for this one) with his principal. Maybe it was on chat roullette or the bisexual chatroom on AIM. I would guess that the student got a little over excited and perhaps bared his fruit to his principal. I wasn't there and this is all speculation, but it would make a lot of sense wouldn't it?

If my principal told me he remotely accessed my webcam when I was in high school I would make him show me how he did it. I doubt any principal I had could even figure out how to unzip a file, let alone remotely access my webcam while I masturbate to bondage videos. This story just seems like fiction to me.

Glenn: You masturbated to bondage videos in high school? I couldn't even find pornography when I was in high school, let alone the boutique kind. I found tons of chat rooms but they were mostly about my favorite wrestlers, like Stone Cold Steve Austin or the Undertaker. This story is very real. I know because it was all over the internet and TV. And it's implications are clear: if we let principals, school administrators and registered sex offenders view children and tweens in their homes whenever they want, we've crossed the line between doing what's best for our kids and walked right into the Fourth Reich. We already elected another Hitler in 2008 so this would just complete the cycle. You CANNOT allow schools to spy on kids in their homes any more than you can allow Jewish citizens to be sent to concentration camps.

Jake: All I know about this story is the one side. This is a trial by media and Glenn is the judge, jury, bailiff and executioner. It's easy to get angry at the pricipal of this school-- everybody hates the principal! If Mr. Belding caught Zack Morris j/o'ing to Lisa Turtle via webcam would it be the straw that broke Belding's back? Would he suspend Morris? I would have to say no. He probably wouldn't even tell Zack, but he would act real uncomfortable around him for a few weeks. Sure Zack was giving Lisa a j/o show, but Zack delivered Belding's son. If this student had delivered his principal's child we wouldn't even know who these people are. In fact, I still don't know who they are.


  1. "When I was 15, for example, I had never even talked to a girl let alone given one HIV. So why should I be spied upon while I stay up until 5am in wrestling chat rooms?" LOL! i'm glad jake found a way to mention SBTB. this news story is so fucked up! we got laptops at my high school, but there weren't web cams in them. if there were, i would've been in a similar situation as glenn, only khelo thomas chat rooms.

  2. Jake, I believe the correct term is J-ing O. You weren't "jack offing".

  3. If Mr. Belding caught Zack morris j/oing to Lisa Turtle on a webcam, I bet he'd be confused as to why Zack's undying love for Kelly turned towards Lisa, even though they did fall madly in love in the episode "The Bayside Triangle," I think we all soon realized Saturday morning television was not ready for this hot and heavy interracial relationship just as Mr. Belding surely is not.

  4. In my mind Zack and Lisa never broke up.

  5. Fantastic debate! Glenn you had a computer class in college?~ Jake, Zack and Lisa broke up!!??~~~

  6. I don't think I praised this highly enough, this debate was brilliant (and it tangentially outed Maddie as a Twilight chat room troll!). WTG fellas...

  7. Thank you Bub! A year and a half later I finally checked OYIT for the first time since this article was written and saw your comment.