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Students at a Philadelphia high school were disgusted to find out that big brother had been looking over their shoulders via their school-issued laptops. Specifically, Lower Merion school officials were able to view their students as well as their families in their homes via school-issued laptop cameras and microphones. In response, one family has filed a lawsuit, arguing that the spy-enabled laptops invaded their privacy and had the potential to catch their family in compromising situations.

The family that filed the suit, the Robbinses, argues that they learned of the alleged webcam images when the assistant principal of the school told their son Blake that she believed he had behaved improperly at home. This then prompted them to believe that the webcams captured students and their families in other compromising and embarrassing situations, for example, while they undressed. Additionally, the lawsuit also alleges that the school district is able to reactivate the tracking feature at any time without notifying or asking permission from students or their families.

Nevertheless, school officials argue that the cameras and microphones are merely part of a security feature meant to track lost or stolen school-issued laptops and that the feature was deactivated immediately upon discovery that it was “spying” on students and their families. Furthermore, school officials have vowed not to reactivate the feature without the express written permission of the families. However, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, if the lawsuit’s allegations are true, such actions on the part of the school would amount to illegal electronic wiretapping.

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