April 15, 2010: A school in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania has installed a tracking system into school laptops without the students' knowledge, which can be activated remotely - allegedly to track down stolen laptops. The system is designed to take pictures every fifteen minutes via the in-built webcam until it is shut down. Allegedly, the system was activated several times when students were late in bringing the laptops back, or when they didn't pay the insurance required for them to bring the laptops home with them. One student learned about this system when he was confronted by one of his teachers with an image taken by it when he was eating candy, which the teacher thought was drugs. His family is suing the school, alleging that the school administration had violated their privacy and took pictures even while their son was asleep.
Game and Story Use
- Remember, an increasing number of devices has in-built cameras - not just laptops, but cell phones as well, and this trend will likely only increase with future innovations. And in theory, all of these could be reprogrammed to shoot images or even videos without their owners' knowledge - which makes it possible to accumulate huge amounts of blackmail material for a sufficiently motivated hacker.
- Such covert surveillance has plenty of potential for a one-shot horror scenario - the PCs are all teachers at a school where such a surveillance system is used in secret. One of them discovers something really disturbing, such as an evil cult one of the students is involved in. They can't go to the police with the evidence, since the method they used to gather the information is a crime that would likely result in a major scandal and likely the end of their careers. But they can't just ignore it either, because all signs point to a major threat (perhaps the student joined up because he wants to revenge himself on the school) - so they have to deal with this problem privately somehow without letting anyone know how they learned of this.