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Harriton High School (PA) Webcam Spy Case Update

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Update on Harriton High School Webcam Spy Case

By Linda Dobson

In a story published this morning on philly.com titled “Thousands of Web Cam Images, Suit Says” Inquirer staff reporter John P. Martin writes:

“The system that Lower Merion school officials used to track lost and stolen laptops wound up secretly capturing thousands of images, including photographs of students in their homes, Web sites they visited, and excerpts of their online chats, says a new motion filed in a suit against the district.”

The motion, filed on Thursday by student Blake Robbins’ lawyers, additionally claims that “each time the camera took Robbins’ picture, it fired the image off to network servers at the School District.

“Back at district offices, the Robbins motion says, employees with access to the images marveled at the tracking software. It was like a window into ‘a little LMSD soap opera,’ a staffer is quoted as saying in an email to Carol Cafiero, the administrator running the program.

“‘I know, I love it,’ she is quoted as having replied.”

The Robbins’ family claims the laptop camera captured more than 400 photos and screen shots with the boy’s computer over a two-week period, and “thousands of webcam pictures and screen shots have been taken of numerous other students in their homes.”

Meantime, Cafiero is on paid leave and has asserted Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Three other employees have provided sworn depositions. The school district originally claimed the camera is a tracking device to find lost or stolen computers. Now it claims “it turned on the camera in Robbins’ computer because his family had not paid the $55 insurance fee and he was not authorized to take the laptop home.”

The motion is available to be read here.

AS I WAS WRITING THIS REPORT, a breaking news update came in.

Number of webcam pics ‘substantial’
Lower Merion School District officials acknowledge that investigators reviewing their laptop tracking program have recovered “a substantial number of webcam photos” and that they expect to notify parents whose children were photographed.
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One Response to “Harriton High School (PA) Webcam Spy Case Update”

  1. Ben Bennett says:

    Read the book "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow and see how much of our future is already here. What will (involved) concerned parents start doing in the next few years? Skipping (govt.) school. How will government react? Depends on how our president feels about people who don't trust government. Hmmmm.

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