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Pennsylvania School District Accused of Spying on Students at Home
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A class action law suit has been filed against the Lower Merion School District alleging the district violated the privacy of its students by remotely activating the webcams in laptops provided by the district to spy on students at home.  The laptops contain a security feature that allows the owner of the laptop to remotely activate the embedded webcam to take a still photograph and a snapshot of the activity on the computer desktop.  The lawsuit alleges that the Vice Principal of Harrington High School told a student that the district believed that he was “engaged in improper behavior at his home”.  The Vice Principal is alleged to have used still pictures taken by the laptop as proof.

The lawsuit claims that students and parents were not told of the security feature before accepting use of the computers.

In a letter on the Lower Merion School District’s website, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christopher McGinley said “This feature was only used for the narrow purpose of locating a lost, stolen or missing laptop. The District never activated the security feature for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever.”  However, no explanation was given for the incident involving the Vice Principal of Harrington High School.

  
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The lawsuit claims that the district violated several laws, including  including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, The Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, a section of the Civil Rights Act, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act and Pennsylvania common law.



 

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