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School District Settles Suits That Allege Laptop Privacy Violations

October 19, 2010 by  

School district settles suits that allege laptop privacy violationsA school district in Pennsylvania has agreed to pay a six-figure sum to settle lawsuits involving privacy infringement.

According to CNN.com, the Lower Merion School District reached agreements with two students who alleged that the district had unlawfully distributed laptop computers which invaded their constitutional right to privacy. The lawsuits claimed that administrators could take photographs and screenshots by remotely accessing the webcams on the laptops.

In a statement, the school district admitted that a number of webcam photos were recovered, but the remote access was solely intended for instances when the laptop was stolen or missing. The news provider reported that the district had removed the webcam security program after the suits were filed.

Doug Young, spokesman for the school district, said that the FBI and the United States Attorney's Office investigated the matter and found no criminal wrongdoing by the district and its employees.

A recent report by The Associated Press revealed that President Barack Obama is pushing to make it easier for the government to access citizens' e-mail communications. The President and his administration believe that law enforcement officials should have expanded capabilities in eavesdropping on conversations involving terrorism, crimes or other public safety issues.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, called the proposal "a shortsighted and ill-conceived power grab," quoted by the news source.

"The balance has swung radically toward enhanced law enforcement powers. For them to argue that it's still not enough is just unbelievable. It's breathtaking in its hubris," Rotenberg added.

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  • dan az

    All I can say is if they read what I write maybe they would understand that we all are pissed off and invading our privacy is probably not the best idea they may learn something.If obumer wants to know what we say in our emails then just ask.You still arent going to like it!

  • Robin from Arcadia, IN

    Barry and his buddies are using the excuse of monitoring e mails for terror attacks to monitor all e mails. It seems the Liberal Left have a way with making excuses for what seems like a good idea to actually turn it around to benefit those in power.

    As far as a school system taking liberties with the laptops they give out, what the hell? How do they come up with the funds to give out laptops to students? Is this more of tax payer dollars being spent without the tax payers knowledge? They shouldn’t be spying on their students, but I don’t think students should be given laptops. What makes either of these issues right?

    • Robert S

      What about criminal charges?

      • http://?? Joe H.

        Robert S,
        I agree about the criminal charges! I heard the one kid had his open and on in his bedroom!! Could have been a case of illegal viewing of a minor!!! Had it been either of my girls, someone would have had a nice fat lip to say the least!!!

    • 45caliber

      Robin:

      I don’t know about your school system but the schools here do it this way: They request a bond issue what will raise the taxes say 1/2 a cent per thousand dollars of your property tax. They sell the bonds for some construction and then pay them off with the tax. When the tax is to end they come back and ask that the people approve keeping the tax. They do. After half a dozen of these bond issues being extended, they get millions a year in taxes that they don’t really have plans for. It pays for such as this. One of our local schools “found” they had $35 million for a new school building after their bond issue was turned down for an equal amount.

  • s c

    Has anyone given any thought to the idea that our mammy jammer, bastard and bastardette ‘leaders’ would not at all like to have THEIR privacy invaded? Who the hell do they think they ARE? Et tu, you elected, traitorous, useful IDIOTS, IN SPADES!

  • dan az

    When the kids that invaded obumers school records got caught he seem to have a problem with that!Did they go to jail?Whats good for the goose is good for the gander!

    • 45caliber

      They NEED to invade our privacy! How else are they going to know which of us needs to be locked up in their concentration camps?

  • Ivy Vine

    I can see it used for finding lost/stolen laptops, but ONLY after it’s reported as such! We are so far into the information/computer age, those kids NEED laptops just to keep up! It’s just part of the cost of education today, and if the parents can’t afford them, the school needs to supply them. (I can remember when calculators weren’t allowed in classrooms because the kids needed to learn to do the math with pencil and paper, a few years later they were required!)

    • http://?? Joe H.

      Ivy,
      I can remember when you are talking about. There was a big uproar about it as they were afraid that the kids wouldn’t be able to do complex figuring in the field without a calculator. Actually they seem to have been right. The standing of the US in math world wide has gone down over those years, not up!!

  • Dave from Ohio

    Have charges been filed for stealing the laptops in the first place? Any taxpayer in the school district would have legal standing and could file those charges.

    • http://?? Joe H.

      dave,
      Those laptops were not stolen, they were issued to the students. That is why the uproar about them being turned on in the kids rooms!!

  • SY in PA

    My child goes to a Vo-Tech near the LMSD and all the kids are issued a MacBook, the idea being that all of them should be tech-savvy even if they aren’t going to any post secondary education. We’re all required to pay for a loss/damage insurance policy ($65) with a $100 deductible. Some of my child’s textbooks were actually downloaded into the laptop at school. The kids are told up front when & how they can/can’t use the laptop in class, and that the school principals & computer central can see what any 20 randomly selected kids are doing on their laptops at school (through the network–not the webcam). Said administrator can notify the teacher (they also have school laptops) if a student is violating laptop policy, and may lose laptop for a day. Since they all submit homework via laptop the kids take it seriously and there’s very little abuse. Also, the teachers are available evenings via online chat for homework help etc. I’m sure that Apple gives a good discount as they always have to schools.

    Note to IvyVine & JoeH: here’s a video why kids can’t do math–try not to tear your hair out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI&feature=email
    (Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth)

    • http://?? Joe H.

      SY in PA,
      No wonder the kids are flunking math!!!! “If the problems get too complex you can use a calculator”!?!?!??!

  • http://corb7.com Jeff Corbett

    Privacy is of vital importance to civil liberties

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