School district settles spying case

The Lower Merion school district will pay $610,000 to two students (well, mostly to their lawyers) after basically spying on them via the webcams on their school-issued laptops.

The district had installed tracking software on student laptops, but didn’t tell students or parents about it. According to the district, it was only used to track lost or stolen laptops. But in the incident that resulted in the lawsuit, a vice principal accused a student of “improper behavior” and showed him a spycam pic of himself in his own home as evidence. (The rumor is: they accused him of taking pills; he says he was eating mike n ikes)

Other students at the school said they would see the green light go off on their cams at home sometimes — and the lawsuit alleges that there were thousands of pics of students, many of kids who had never reported their laptops missing or stolen.

If you read the wikipedia version of events, it sounds like a vice principal got waaaaay too excited and over-reachy about her job and actively chose to spy on the student. But most news articles about it make it sound like the school just — oops! — forgot to turn off the tracking software after laptops that had been reported lost were recovered. And an FBI investigation resulted in no criminal charges.

Regardless, time to put a post-it note over the ol’ webcam, right? Not just for school-owned laptops either — there are viruses that can do that ish, too. Grooooosssssss.

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