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This week in privacy

Elementary school in Northern California pulls plug on student surveillance system after technology comes under fire from parents and the ACLU.

An elementary school in a rural Northern California town has pulled the plug on a new student surveillance system after the technology came under fire from parents and a civil-rights group.

Brittan Elementary School, located in Sutter, about 40 miles north of Sacramento, is shutting off the high-tech student-tracking system because the company supplying it backed out of the deal.

The company, called InCom, put a kibosh on the project after some parents and a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union aired complaints at a school board meeting last week. Their protests became the subject of numerous media reports. Parents and privacy advocates were concerned that student badges containing tiny radio devices would infringe on kids' privacy--and that the radio waves could pose a health risk.

Meanwhile, a woman who installed spyware on her husband's computer to secretly record evidence of an extramarital affair violated state law, a Florida court ruled. The court found that Beverly Ann O'Brien had "illegally obtained" records of husband James' online conversations with another woman as the two played Yahoo Dominoes together.

The judges barred Beverly Ann O'Brien from revealing the contents of the intercepted conversations, and said the chat records could not be introduced as evidence in the couple's divorce proceedings. The case highlights growing social friction over the use of clandestine electronic monitoring software, which has become more widespread in the last few years.