Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/22/macbook_spy_row/

Feds open school spycam probe

MacBook snoop row

By John Oates

Posted in Law, 22nd February 2010 11:47 GMT

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is opening a probe into allegations that a US high school used laptop cameras to monitor students.

The investigation is the result of a class action suit filed last week against Lower Merion School District.

School student Blake Robbins was told last November he had been accused of "improper behavior in his home" - and the evidence for this behaviour was a photograph of him in his bedroom taken via his laptop's camera.

Feds, speaking anonymously, told CNN it was investigating to see if wiretap or computer intrusion laws had been broken.

The school offers pupils MacBooks as part of its "21st Century Learning Initiative". On Friday the school said it had appointed lawyers to look at its past and present laptop policies.

It said while its investigation continued: "We caution people to not reach unsupported conclusions. Important issues like these often generate misinformation and unjustified speculation. This situation is no exception.

"We ask that any conclusions be reserved until all of the facts are developed. Thank you.”

The school insisted that accessing student laptop cameras only happened on 42 occasions when the machines were reported lost or stolen, and that such access was logged.

It said that no high school administrator could, or had, accessed the security software in order to monitor or photograph a pupil at home as part of a disciplinary action.

But the school accepted that no notice was given to pupils that such a security feature was enabled on their machines and that it should have been. ®