From the file....
Like any dad, Joseph Auther was worried about what his son might get up to while exploring the wilds of the World Wide Web. So when his 7th grade son got a school-provided laptop from Whispering Palms School in Saipan in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, Auther decided to install a monitoring program on it. He went with a spyware program called eBlaster from SpectorSoft, a company based in Vero Beach, Florida. Unbeknownst to his son, the program captured his website visits, his keystrokes, and every email, chat, and instant message he sent and received. This was all delivered up to his dad in emails, while giving the monitored person no hint that it was doing so.
Ok, so Dad spies on kid. I might have done that once or twice (if you're a parent and haven't, you're not much of a parent.)
But then Dad takes the computer to be cleaned off and returns it, but the spyware survives.
Who gets it next? Not another student -- the Principal.
And what does he do with it? Look for kiddie porn.
And, ultimately, he gets busted too.
The courts (thus far) have ruled that since the spyware being left on the computer was accidental, and wasn't put there for "official purpose" (that is, the original purpose was legally permissible -- monitoring one's own minor child) the fact that it later disclosed an illegal act isn't subject to a 4th Amendment challenge.
Working against the Principal was the fact that the laptop was supposed to be assigned to another student and the Principal had effectively "stolen" it, since it was not a piece of gear he had legitimate access to use.
In other words he was using effectively-stolen property that even in its intended use didn't come with an expectation of privacy, and there was thus no reasonable expectation that what he did with it would remain private.
In the general sense I applaud catching and locking up those who trade in this crap, because real kids are abused to create it. In the general case I also, however, come down hard on the 4th Amendment side of the argument; if you have reasonable suspicion you get a warrant and if the cops take shortcuts that's tough crap -- the price is a thrown-out case no matter how ugly, because that's the only way the cops will ever respect The Constitution.
But this is an unusual case, assuming the facts really are as presented -- and Mr. Fibbie didn't have some undisclosed reason to be suspicious of the Principal (and thus didn't engineer the spyware "accidentally" remaining on the machine.)
My problem with the story line is that it includes a claim that the drive in the machine was re-imaged.
Not just being cleaned off and software unloaded, but re-imaged.
Unfortunately I have more than a bit of experience with computers and how they work and thus my "BS!" detector is ringing loud and long on this story.
Oh, and Fibbies never lie about exactly what they did, right?
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