Second Student Sues School District Over Webcam Spying
A webcam scandal at a suburban Philadelphia school district expanded Tuesday to include a second student alleging his school-issued laptop secretly snapped images of him.
The brouhaha commenced in February, when a student of Lower Merion School District was called into an administrator’s office. Sophomore Blake Robbins was shown a picture of himself that officials suggested was him popping pills. The family claimed it was candy.
An invasion-of-privacy lawsuit followed, alleging the district had snapped thousands of pictures of its students using webcams affixed to the 2,300 Apple laptops the district issued. Some of the images included pictures of youths at home, in bed or even “partially dressed,” (.pdf) according to a filing in the case. Students’ online chats were also captured, as well as a record of the websites they visited. (...)
The tracking software on Hasan’s computer wasn’t turned off until February 18, when Robbins filed suit, the suit alleges, claiming that at least 469 photographs and 543 screenshots were taken by Hasan’s computer without his knowledge. Hasan’s suit said the images “were taken without Jalil’s knowledge, without his authorization and to his utter shock, dismay, panic, embarrassment and disgust.” (...)
The district said the cameras were activated only when a laptop was reported stolen or missing — assertions lawyers suing the district dispute.
Federal prosecutors will not file charges against a school district or its employees over the use of software to remotely monitor students.
U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger says investigators have found no evidence of criminal intent by Lower Merion School District employees who activated tracking software that took thousands of webcam and screenshot images on school-provided laptops.