A while back the Lower Merion School District of Pennsylvania was sued for activating software on school issued laptops that activated the webcam and allowed them to take pictures of whomever was in front of the laptop. LMSD had responded by deactivating all of its software on laptops to help alleviate fear that students were being spied upon. Here is the official response from the U.S Attorneys Office:
After a thorough review of the evidence in this matter by my office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, the Montgomery County Detectives, and the Lower Merion Police Department, I have concluded that bringing criminal charges is not warranted in this matter. For the government to prosecute a criminal case, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged acted with criminal intent. We have not found evidence that would establish beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone involved had criminal intent. I understand that the civil litigation continues. I chose to make this announcement before the beginning of the school year to close at least one part of this matter.
Now, FBI and federal prosecutors have announced that there will not be any criminal charges filed against LMSD or any employee. U.S. Attorney Zane D. Memeger stated that:
We have not found evidence that would establish beyond reasonable doubt that anyone involved had criminal intent
Whether or not they had criminal intent, the school still activated the webcam’s without parental consent or the consent of the student using it at the time. The school still says that they only activated the webcam’s because they believed that the laptops were stolen. Even so, wouldn’t that prompt a call to the parent or child that had borrowed the laptop before taking a picture?
In total there were 56,000 images taken by the webcams attached to these laptops and according to the courts none were inappropriate. The school was taking these photographs even without a laptop being stolen. Even with this verdict on the lawsuit a second student has joined to support the claim against the school that the pictures were taken without consent and for no reason.
After the announcement that the school was not going to be charged the superintendent Christopher W. McGinley made the following statement:
This is all good news for the students and staff of Lower Merion School District as we prepare for the start of a new school year
So the school is happy there are no charges but are the parents or the accused students? I honestly think that the schools should revise their policy in regards to activating the remote webcam software and make sure they notify the appropriate parties before activating it. If you were involved in this case in any way we would love to hear from you, just drop us an email at sanity[at]tekgoblin.com.