Schools, fools and the tools of ignorance

If not for help from a handful of geeks, US school teacher Julie Amero would be in prison right now for crimes she didn't commit. What's wrong with this picture?

Julie Amero is free at last.

If this were the 1970s, Bob Dylan might have written a song about her. Today it's geeks who came to her rescue.

Amero's "crime": In October 2004, the substitute teacher from Connecticut, was surfing the Net on a computer inside a middle school classroom when porn ads began popping up all over the screen. She didn't turn the computer off, because school officials expressly told her not to. Someone reported the incident, and Amero was charged with four counts of endangering minors. In January 2007, a jury convicted Amero of surfing XXX sites in the classroom.

Amero was looking at 40 years in the slammer when geeks around the country -- most notably Sunbelt Software CEO Alex Eckelberry -- read of her verdict and immediately recognized the telltale signs of a spyware infection. They went to work on Amero's behalf, urging the judge for a retrial (which was granted in June 2007). According to Hartford Courant blogger Rick Green:

The state never conducted a forensic examination of the hard drive and instead relied on the expertise of a Norwich detective, with limited computer experience. Experts working for Amero ridiculed the state's evidence, saying it was a classic case of spyware seizing control of the computer. Other experts also said that Amero's response -- she failed to turn off the computer -- was not unusual in cases like this.... Among other things, the security experts found that the Norwich school system had failed to properly update software that would have blocked the pornography in the first place.

Amero isn't totally exonerated. She agreed to plead guilty to "disorderly conduct" (a misdemeanor), pay US$100, and have her teaching credentials revoked. The state still refuses to acknowledge it was mistaken. Lord only knows if the school ever cleaned up its computers.

Somebody needs to revoke the credentials of Norwich school administrators and prosecutors -- or at least make them stay after school and learn something about the machines they put inside their classrooms.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags spyware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?