Feeds

PA school district avoids charges over webcam spy scandal

No criminal intent in teen peek unpleasantness

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Philadelphia school administrators involved in a webcam spying episode will escape criminal prosecution, federal authorities have decided.

A high school in the Lower Merion School District of suburban Philadelphia used laptop cameras outfitted with LanRev theft tracking software to monitor students. The unorthodox use of the technology to covertly take pictures of high school students emerged after student Blake Robbins was accused of "improper conduct" based on images captured using the technology at the teenager's home last autumn.

Robbins, 15, was accused of "pill popping", a charge strongly disputed by the family who said their son was simply eating sweets while surfing. The incident provoked an invasion of privacy lawsuit and FBI inquiry.

School administrators at first said the LanRev tracking camera function was only used a small number of times after a laptop was reported either lost or stolen. It later emerged that 58,000 pictures of students and their friends and family were taken by the school district, which issued 2,300 MacBooks to students.

An independent report by a computer forensics expert and former prosecutor found no proof of a deliberate campaign to spy on students or evidence that the captured images had been used inappropriately. IT administrators were nonetheless criticised for "overzealous" use of the technology, while administrators were lambasted for failing to formulate and apply security policies.

Federal prosecutors this week decided not to pursue criminal charges in the case after concluding there was no criminal intent in the alleged surveillance.

"I have concluded that bringing criminal charges is not warranted in this matter," Zane David Memeger, US attorney for the Easter District of Pennsylvania said in a statement, Wired reports.

"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."

The civil lawsuit - which has a much lower burden of proof - is unaffected by the decision not to bring charges against the school administrators involved in the episode. Mark Haltzman, a lawyer suing the district, told Wired that the prosecutor's ruling in the case highlighted the need for tougher privacy-protecting legislation. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.