School District Settles Suits That Allege Laptop Privacy Violations
October 19, 2010 by Special To Personal Liberty
A 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.