Feds Will Not Charge Pa. School Employees in Webcam Spying Case

Lora Bentley
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Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

Remember the school in Pennsylvania that was sued for using laptop webcams to "spy" on its students? The last I read, a school system IT administrator had invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself in the civil trial, and the techs involved were placed on paid leave after the Federal Bureau of Investigation began looking into the situation.


Privacy advocates were understandably appalled. It appeared that the school system had condoned remote activation of the webcams on laptops issued to students while they were in their homes or otherwise not expecting to be monitored. What's more, they had done so without informing the students and their parents that they could do so.


Since then, the Lower Merion School District has adjusted its policies to ensure that parents and students are aware of the webcam and tracking capabilities before they are issued laptops. And Wednesday, the Philadelphia Daily News reported neither the school district nor its employees would face federal criminal charges for the activities leading to the civil lawsuit.


In a statement, U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said:

For the government to prosecute a criminal case, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged acted with criminal intent. We have not found evidence that would establish beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone involved had criminal intent.

The school district's internal investigation also found no evidence of intentional misuse of the laptops' tracking capabilities to "spy" on students.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 20, 2010 9:01 AM Bowen Bowen  says:

Finally, common sense wins out.  Parents should have been informed of this at the outset.  At that point parents could decide whether they wanted their child to be issued a laptop.

Parents should, however, monitor their children's computer activities, and they do not need permission from the children to do this.  If this is not done, the children are being put at possible risk.  Child safety must come first.

As we like to say, When you want the truth, you need the technology.

Jun 25, 2011 2:13 AM Jennifer Jennifer  says:

It is the duty of parents to teach their kid how to use the lap top.

But definitely it is very help full for a student in Education and services.


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