More details have come to light in the case of the Lower Merion School District spying on its students with covert laptop webcam software. The school district of the affluent Philadelphia suburb issued mandatory laptops to its students, each one loaded with software that could covertly activate the laptops' webcams, supposedly as a security measure to help recover stolen laptops). Students were required to carry and use the laptops, forbidden from using their own computers in school, and prohibited from modifying the software on their machines.
The school claims that it only activated the webcam spying software on rare occasions, but this is contested by parents. One student, Blake Robbins, was called in for a disciplinary meeting for "popping pills" while at home (Robbins says he was eating Mike & Ike's candies). The revelation that the school had been watching him remotely resulted in a parent lawsuit.
Now, the parents' lawyer says that "thousands" of covert photos and screenshots were taken in students' homes. These photos included students in various states of undress, sleeping, and partaking in other private activities. Shown below, a photo of Blake Robbins sleeping, covertly captured by his school laptop, released by the family's lawyer.
"Discovery to date has now revealed that thousands of webcam pictures and screen shots (.pdf) have been taken from numerous other students in their homes, many of which never reported their laptops lost or missing," attorney Mark Haltzman wrote in a Thursday federal court filing…
The lawsuit said the administrator, who has been placed on paid leave, "invokes the Fifth Amendment to every question asked of her, including a question asked as to whether she had ever downloading (sic) pictures to her own computer, including pictures of students who were naked while in their home."
In February, the Lower Merion School District deactivated the webcam-tracking program secretly lodged on 2,300 student laptops.
School District Allegedly Snapped Thousands of Student Webcam Spy Pics
Robbins v Lower Merion School District filing (PDF)
- FBI investigating Lower Merion School District over laptop spying …
- School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and …
- School district admits installing covert webcam activation …
- Vice-principal denies using laptop to spy on student
- ACLU and EFF on school where spy-laptops were mandatory
- How obscure security makes school suck