A suburban Philadelphia school district is agreeing to pay $610,000 to settle two lawsuits brought by students who were victims of a webcam spying scandal in which high school-issued laptops secretly snapped thousands of pictures of pupils.
Prosecutors and the FBI opened an inquiry following a February privacy lawsuit accusing administrators of spying on students with webcams on the 2,300 district-issued MacBooks. The lawyers who filed lawsuits on behalf of two students acquired evidence in pretrial proceedings showing that the district secretly snapped thousands of webcam images of students, including pictures of youths at home, in bed or even “partially dressed.”
The original suit was based on a claim by Robbins, a sophomore at the time, that school officials reprimanded him for “improper behavior” based on photos the computer secretly took of the boy at home last fall. One picture shows him asleep at home last October.
That “behavior” turned out to be pill popping. The family said their son was eating Mike and Ike candy, his lawyer claimed.
In all, about 400 photos were taken of Robbins. The tracking software on Hasan’s computer snapped as many as 469 photographs and 543 screenshots of the former senior.
We should not be comfortable or content in a society where the only way to remain free of surveillance and repression is if we make ourselves as unthreatning, passive, and compliant as possible.