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School District Hit With New Mac Spying Lawsuit

CWmike (1292728) writes | more than 3 years ago

Privacy 2

CWmike writes "A former student at a suburban Philadelphia high school has sued his school district for allegedly spying on him and his family using a school-issued Mac laptop, according to court documents. The Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa. was first sued in February 2010 by another student using similar charges. That case, dubbed 'Spygate' in some reports, was settled last October when Lower Merion agreed to pay Blake Robbins $175,000 and cover $425,000 in court costs. On Monday, Joshua Levin, a 2009 graduate of Herriton High, charged the district with violating his civil rights and privacy by remotely activating the notebook's built-in camera to take photographs and screenshots. On Wednesday, Lower Merion spokesman Doug Young called Levin's lawsuit 'solely motivated by monetary interests and a complete waste of the taxpayer's dollars.' Levin begged to differ. According to his lawsuit, Lower Merion used his laptop to take more than 8,000 photographs and screenshots between September 2008 and March 2009. A district report uncovered more than 30,000 photographs and 27,000 screenshots taken. Last June, lawyers made photos and screenshots available for viewing by the 76 affected students. 'Plaintiff opted to view the recovered images, and was shocked, humiliated and severely emotionally distressed at what he saw,' Levin's lawsuit stated."
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Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36378690)

Yes the kid's chasing a payday, but when are school officials going to be charged under peeping tom laws?

Re:Crime? (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36379924)

Yes the kid's chasing a payday, but when are school officials going to be charged under peeping tom laws?

Probably never. Remember, to convict, the prosecution would probably have to convince the jury that the image capturing was done for an intentionally nefarious purpose, like to intentionally create child pornography or to intentionally spy on the activities of students. It would be very easy for a defendant to state that they didn't know that the technology could work the way that it did work, and they've already stated that the software's primary purpose was to try to deal with unauthorized use and with theft. On top of that, I'd bet that there's effectively no documentation in that district as to who actually authorized the use of the software, let alone why, so it's difficult to pin down any one employee for criminal charges. The school district itself can't really do anything more than make restitution as well, so this approach makes the most sense. I'd bet that most of the students involved will eventually sue, and that depending on the nature of the imaged captured, most will get around $200,000 after court costs, and some will get quite a bit more.

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