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(TRENTON) – The “Anti-Big Brother Act” (A2932) sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) was passed out of the Assembly Education Committee today. Senator Norcross crafted the bill after events in the Lower Merion School District in Montgomery Township, PA where students – without their knowledge or consent – were recorded and monitored in their homes through school-issued laptops.
“Students should never be monitored without their knowledge, and especially not without parents being made aware what these devices are capable of,” said Senator Norcross. “The ‘Anti-Big Brother Act’ ensures that this technology will not be abused by either the student or the district.”
Over 66,000 images of students taken by their laptop cameras had been transmitted to Lower Merion district administrators. Students had not been informed of the laptops’ remote access capability, and the issue came to light when photos of a student covertly captured in his bedroom were used to discipline him at school.
Senator Norcross’s bill would require a school district that furnishes a student with a laptop, computer, cellular telephone, or other electronic device to provide students and their families with written notice that the device may record or collect information on the students’ activities. The notice is required to have a form attached which provides for a parent or guardian signature acknowledging receipt of the form.
“Families have a right to expect a modicum of privacy and respect from their school district,” Senator Norcross added.
Already passed by the Senate, this bill now awaits a vote by the full Assembly.
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"When you're asked to cast a vote on a bill and it seems innocuous, and it's got a hidden land mine that perhaps only an expert would see, it would sort of behoove those experts to tell us in advance rather than make us look, shall we say, a little bit indecisive later on." - Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25).- NJTV
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