Students to see photos snapped in Pa. school 'spying' case
Judge lets students view the nearly 58,000 images before parents get their chance
Computerworld - Students in two suburban Philadelphia high schools will be allowed to view photographs taken by their school-issued laptops, and may preview them first before deciding which images their parents may see, according to a court order issued Friday.
In the order, U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter said that certified letters would be sent to students who had been photographed when their Apple MacBooks' cameras had been activated by IT personnel of Lower Merion School District.
Lower Merion was sued in mid-February by Michael and Holly Robbins, and their teenage son Blake, a high school student at Harriton High School, after an assistant principal accused Blake of selling drugs and taking pills, and used a snapshot taken by his computer as evidence. Robbins claimed the pictures showed him eating candy.
The district took more than 30,000 photographs using the students' Webcams, and another 27,000 screenshots using software designed to track lost, missing or stolen laptops, according to a report commissioned by Lower Merion.
That report laid most of the blame on the district's IT staff for the excessive photo taking using its LANrev software.
According to the report, 76 different student laptops were told to capture photographs and screenshots in the last two school years.
The letters, which will also be mailed to affected students' parents or guardians, will indicate the date of Webcam activations, and the number of photographs and screenshots taken by each student's computer.
But the teenagers will be shown the images before parents.
"We are sending a notice similar to this one to your parents/guardians," Rueter's proposed letter read. "The District would like to give them an opportunity to view the images as well. But, you will be able to look at the images without your parent(s)/guardian(s) first, and if there are any image that you do not want them to see, you may let Judge Rueter know, and he will discuss with you how to handle the situation."
If the photographs or screenshots contain private information from others beside the student, the court will take steps to protect their interests, the letter added.
Another order last week in the case gave the U.S. District Attorney's office and the FBI access to the photographs and screenshots taken by the school district's LANrev software. The federal prosecutor and the FBI are investigating possible criminal conduct within Lower Merion.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- NSA defends collecting data from U.S. residents not suspected of terrorist activities
- Groups fear bill would allow free flow of data between private sector and NSA
- Google's move into home automation means even less privacy
- Bill to require warrant for email searches gains ground in House
- Coming soon to a fridge near you -- targeted ads
- Snowden leaks prompt tech firms to tout privacy, transparency policies
- License reader lawsuit can be heard, appeals court rules
- Is EU's 'right to be forgotten' really the 'right to edit the truth'?
- Tails 1.0: A bootable Linux distro that protects your privacy
- Privacy jitters derail controversial K-12 big data initiative
Read more about Privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.
- Agility & Scalability for Oracle EBS R12 and RAC on VMware vSphere 5 This white paper outlines extensive performance and scalability testing of Oracle EBS applications on a Vblock™ Systems with vSphere 5.
- Oracle and VCE: The Next Step in Integrated Computing Platforms In this ESG Lab review you will learn how a VCE system driven by Oracle, delivers the perfect blend of high performance and...
- Migrate Oracle Apps from RISC/UNIX to Virtualized x86 Ready to move Oracle to a virtualized environment? This brief explains how true converged infrastructure can help you migrate from a RISC/UNIX environment...
- Step Out of the Bull's-Eye Learn about the evolution of targeted attacks, the latest in security intelligence, and strategic steps to keep your business safe.
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!