Feeds

School secretly snapped 1000s of students at home

Some while sleeping or partially undressed

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A suburban Philadelphia school district secretly captured thousands of images of students in their homes, sometimes as they slept or were partially undressed, according to documents filed in federal court.

Using a system to track lost or stolen laptops, officials from the Lower Merion School District also covertly surveilled students as they used their school-issued Macs, logging online chats and taking screenshots of websites they visited, according to the documents.

The allegations came to light in a lawsuit filed by the family of Blake Robbins, which argues that the LANrev software illegally invaded his privacy. The family first learned of the surveillance in November when an assistant principal confronted the 15-year-old high school sophomore with a picture of him that was taken by the tracking software.

The image, Robbins has said, showed him with a handful of Mike and Ike candies that the principal had mistaken for illegal pills.

Robbins' $1,000 laptop was not believed to be missing, so the theft-tracking software never should have been activated, his attorney has argued.

School officials told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the software was turned on because Robbins' family had failed to pay a $55 insurance fee to cover the laptop, so he was not authorized to take it home. They also say there is no evidence to indicate school employees used any of the images inappropriately.

Still, the district acknowledged that the software has been activated 42 times since September and an undisclosed number of times the previous year. They have yet to say how many students were photographed or monitored.

According to documents filed by the Robbins' attorney on Thursday, more than 400 images were secretly snapped of Blake, some while he was sleeping or partially undressed.

"Thousands of webcam pictures and screenshots have been taken of numerous other students in their homes, many of which never reported their laptops lost or missing," the filing added.

The motion went on to recite the email exchange between two district employees who administered the laptops.

Viewing the images was like watching "a little LMSD soap opera," one of them said, referring to the initials of the school district.

"I know, I love it!" technology coordinator Carol Cafiero replied.

Much more from The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Associated Press is here and here. Additional details about the school district's use of LANrev are here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.