Shocking New Details In School Laptop Spying Case
Friday, April 16th, 2010
Startling new evidence has emerged in the ongoing case of the Lower Merion school district in Philadelphia accused of spying on students in their homes via school issued laptops.
The lawyer for the family of the student whose school issued computer was allegedly remotely accessed while in his home, says that thousands of images were taken, including photographs of other students in their homes, web sites they visited, and excerpts of their online chats.
The case, Blake J. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (PDF), was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
According to the filing, the actions of the school district were exposed when one of the school’s vice principals disciplined Mr Robbins’ son for “improper behavior in his home,” and used a photo taken from the computer camera as evidence.
Though the district superintendent had denied that the laptops were remotely accessed for any purpose other than to track ones that had been lost or stolen, a new motion filed in the suit against the district asserts that the camera on Robbins’ laptop took photos of the boy partially undressed and also as he slept in his bed (see image above).
“Each time, it fired the images off to network servers at the school district.” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The motion states that the system was designed to take a new picture every 15 minutes, along with a screenshot and a recording of the IP address, in order that the machine could be located.
It also contends that employees at district offices with access to the images ogled them and reveled in the tracking software. One staffer referred to the software as like “a little LMSD soap opera,” in an e-mail to Carol Cafiero, the administrator running the program.
“I know, I love it,” Cafiero is quoted as having replied.
The Robbins family have suggested that Cafiero, currently suspended, “may be a voyeur” who may have downloaded some of the laptop photos of students on her home computer.
Cafiero’s lawyer disputes the charge, and has stated that the claims have been falsified to prop up a failing case against the school district.
The district has declined to comment on the new motion and says it is not aware of any misuse of the images taken from the laptops. The case is ongoing.
This article was posted: Friday, April 16, 2010 at 10:29 am