School Charged With Spying on Students via Laptop Webcams

By now we have all heard the story about Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township, PA giving their students laptops to use in school and then remotely switching on the web cams to purportedly “locate missing computers” which remain the property of the school.  However, a student was approached by an assistant principal who said that the student was viewed on the webcam “engaged in inappropriate behavior in his home” which led to his informing  to his parents, Michael and Holly Robbins, who then along with the student filed a  lawsuit against Lindy Matsko,the assistant principal at Harriton High School, alledging that she spied on the student at home by remotely activating the webcam on the student’s  laptop. Now the FBI is conducting an investigation to see if the school is in violation of Fourth Amendment Rights. It is alledged  that  the school essentially was employing wiretapping and violated electronic communications and computer fraud laws as well.

Here is an interview posted on the with a random student of the school:

And a report again on Fox with an actual interview with the student directly involved in the lawsuit.

In these tight times and with technology becoming such an integral part of our curriculum, For  the school to purchase the laptops for every student and be responsible for their upkeep was quite generous  in the first place. And the school, therefore has the right to expect that these computers will be maintained and not just disappear when in the student’s care. The student in the first video has a point, though, that there are alternate ways of gathering information as to location of laptops without using a web cam. Absolute Software for example offers a complete and reliable system for tracing and maintaining hardware and software on both Windows and Mac machines. Sure, not as cost effective but look at what the school district is facing now.

We will be hearing much about this in the weeks to come and will keep you informed.  Let us know your take on this story.

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