Lower Merion high school Webcam flap: Report says 56,000 images snapped

A school district accused of spying on students with Webcams now appears to have snapped 56,000 images, according to reports.

A school district accused of spying on students with Webcams now appears to have snapped 56,000 images, according to reports.

The Lower Merion School District raised a ruckus with a tracking feature on laptops that potentially violated family privacy. A civil suit was filed by students alleging that the district violated their privacy with “indiscriminant use of and ability to remotely activate the webcams incorporated into each laptop issued to students by the School District.”

In February, Lower Merion apologized and moved to allay worries. But the allegations led to everything from an FBI investigation to new legislation. Those worries may rev up again following a Philly.com report. According to Philly.com, the flagship site of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News:

Lower Merion School District employees activated the web cameras and tracking software on laptops they gave to high school students about 80 times in the past two school years, snapping nearly 56,000 images that included photos of students, pictures inside their homes and copies of the programs or files running on their screens, district investigators have concluded.

The data was handed to the paper by a school district lawyer.

Among the key points:

  • In most cases, school district employees turned off the system after a laptop was found.
  • In at least five instances, district employees kept the Webcams on and took pictures for days.
  • Six laptops accounted for most of the images---all six were reported missing from Harriton High School, which gave all of its high school students a laptop.

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