Claim: School spied on students with laptop webcams

The Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania has been accused of using laptop webcams to spy on students in their homes.

Indeed, the parents of one Blake J. Robbins have filed a lawsuit against the district claiming that officials remotely accessed the school-issued laptops and snapped webcam photos of their son.

According to BoingBoing, the Robbins family became aware of the alleged breach of privacy when Blake was disciplined for “improper behavior” in his home.

“The Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. If true, these allegations are about as creepy as they come,” wrote BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow.

“The idea that a school district would not only spy on its students’ clickstreams and emails (bad enough), but also use these machines as AV bugs is purely horrifying.”

However, Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technia cautioned that events may have “played out differently” than the complaint alleges. 

“If it was a MacBook, for example, Blake may have used the built-in Photo Booth software to take a picture of himself doing something questionable while at home, which may or may not be against the school’s policy,” speculated Cheng.

“If that photo got posted online or even synced back with the school’s admins the next day, it’s possible that [the school] was given access to the photo for disciplinary purposes.”