The school district’s conduct, the plaintiffs allege, runs afoul of not only the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, but also a laundry list of federal and state laws intended to protect the privacy of people and stored information alike. This includes the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, §1983 of the Civil Rights Act, the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, and Pennsylvania common law as well.
As a recent graduate of Harriton, I thought I could shed some light on the situation. These laptops were 2.0ghz 2gb Macbooks issued out to all the students for the entire year to do whatever they wanted and this was the 2nd year of the program. The webcam couldn't be disabled due through tough tough security settings. Occasionally we would notice that the green light was on from time to time but we just figured that it was glitching out as some macbooks do sometimes. Some few covered it up with tape and post its because they thought the IT guys were watching them. I always thought they were crazy and that the district, one of the more respectable ones within the state, would never pull some ***** like this. I guess I was wrong. I am a little surprised because nobody in the past had be disciplined for doing anything inappropriate during school or outside of school. The only thing coming close was a kid performing a simple hack to make another account in order to install games. This specific incident was traced through the network by the IT dept. While I still think there might be a chance the vice principal/ disciplinarian doesn't have these specific images as she is quite the type to make a bluff like that, it sounds to me like this is legit. If they have been watching all of us and looking at our logs and looking at what we type, I can assure you that they have seen lots and lots and lots of dirty things.
Upon a report of a suspected lost, stolen or missing laptop, the feature was activated by the District's security and technology departments. The tracking-security feature was limited to taking a still image of the operator and the operator's screen. This feature has only been used for the limited purpose of locating a lost, stolen or missing laptop. The District has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever.
HILADELPHIA — A law-enforcement official with knowledge of the case says the FBI has opened a criminal investigation into a Pennsylvania school district accused of activating webcams inside students' homes without their knowledge.
The official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, says the FBI will explore whether Lower Merion School District officials broke any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws.
Lower Merion officials say they remotely activated webcams 42 times to find missing student laptops in the past 14 months, but never did so to spy on students, as a recent lawsuit claims.
The Montgomery County district attorney also is gathering information to determine whether to open an investigation.
CP: Did Blake Robbins steal the laptop?
DY: I can't refer to the specifics of the case, but I can say that the feature would not be activated unless it was reported stolen. A student or family member would have to report that it was stolen for us to use it.
The district contends that the Robbinses failed to pay a required $55 insurance fee, and that, therefore, Blake was barred from taking home a laptop.
Just think, these web cameras could have captured evidence of child abuse, even sex abuse! -- BigSky
Legally ? Yep - it's yours after all. -- Pogo_Fuzzybutt
"A Philadelphia-area attorney who specializes in employer-employee law thinks the lawsuit might not be a slam-dunk for the Robbins family."
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