Philadelphia's Lower Merion School District will pay $610,000 to settle the webcam spying lawsuits brought against them by two former high school students. Lawyers for the students provided evidence in a pretrial hearing that demonstrated that the school had secretly snapped webcam images of students which included photos of them at home, in their beds and evenly partially dressed.
Laptops that the school issued to students contained a tracking program that the shcool maintains was only used to track lost or stolen laptaps, but Blake Robbins, who filed the initial lawsuit last February, realized his laptop had been spying on him when school officials reprimanded him for behavior based on photos that were taken of him in his home. Jalil Hasan, who brought the second suit against the school district, learned of the hundreds of photographs taken of him in a letter from a lawyer that was leading Lower Marion's investigation of the webcam spying allegations.
Lower Marion continues to use the tracking software to identify lost or stolen laptops but has revised its policies and said the built in cameras in the Macbooks will no longer be activated or monitored.
One could imagine that this type of invasion of privacy is the kind of stuff that high schoolers' nightmares are made of and you have to wonder if other district students with school issued laptops have been approaching the Macbooks with caution and routinely throwing black cloth over the 'seeing eyes' of their computers.