Spycam school to pay damages for kiddie snaps
Lawyers rake in most of the cash as laptop camera case ends
The US school which used laptop cameras to spy on its students has agreed to pay damages to settle a civil suit brought as a result of the scandal.
The Lower Merion School District in Philadelphia used tracking software from LanRev and laptops' internal cameras to take covert pictures of students.
The school has now agreed to pay $175,000 (£110,000) to Blake Robins, one of the students, $10,000 (£6,300) to Jalil Hassan and $425,000 (£268,000) to their lawyers.
David Ebby, school board president, said the school's insurers had already spent $1.2m (£755,000) on the case.
He said: "Although we would have valued the opportunity to finally share an important, untold story in the courtroom, we recognise that in this case, a lengthy, costly trial would benefit no one. It would have been an unfair distraction for our students and staff and it would have cost taxpayers additional dollars that are better devoted to education."
Ebby also said the school wished to avoid putting the students involved through the pressure of a high-profile trial.
The school admitted taking 58,000 photos of students, their friends and families without their knowledge or consent by using 2,300 MacBooks which were issued to students.
Federal prosecutors decided not to press charges because they found there was no criminal intent.
Full school statement is here. ®
Which is the bit I find amazing. Surely, somewhere, somebody should be going to jail for this massive invasion of privacy.
Fifty. Eight. Thousand. Photos. And no criminal intent.
So what *was* their intent? What did they think they were doing it for? That's not any kind of casual operation, it must have had some specific reason.
If it wasn't to get photos of undressed students, then the only thing that seems to make sense is that they were spying on students simply because they could.
They had the ability to watch students without them knowing, so they just went ahead and did so. Presumably convincing themselves that they were in charge of the students and supposed to look after them so it was OK to do this.
After all, children don't have any real rights, and the school knows what's best for them better than they or their parents do.
Grab all the information possible, just in case someone somewhere is doing something you don't approve of.
That would certainly fit with the way they were found out. They saw a student eating something and decided "Oh! It must be Drugs!". Because that's how they were justifying it to themselves - that they might spot just that kind of thing happening, and could Save that poor child.
And they'd persuaded themselves of this so much that they went ahead and accused him, and blew the whole thing. They had convinced themselves so strongly that they were justified that they didn't realise the rest of the world might not agree.
It's for their Own Good!
The inconceivable federal prosecutors argument is utterly implausible.
So I have to ask why are the federal prosecutors so adamantly clinging to such an implausible argument?
Or more to the point, who is pressuring the federal prosecutors into giving this implausible argument?
Who stands to loose if this case was prosecuted as criminal intent?
Could it be the federal prosecutors didn't press charges because they knew that would have created a legal precedent against state workers spying. So they diverted it into becoming just a civil law case.
A legal precedent against state workers spying would have helped stop future acts of state spying. So its very interesting the federal prosecutors chose not to create that legal precedent.
The way privacy is being killed off around the world these days, people very much need more protection against increasing spying, so its very interesting the federal prosecutors chose not to create a legal precedent that would have helped increase people's privacy.
Therefore sadly it looks like they really do want more state spying. :(