Published Online: August 24, 2010
Published in Print: August 25, 2010, as No Federal Charges in Pa. Webcam Case

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No Federal Charges in Pa. Webcam Case

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No criminal charges will be filed against a suburban Philadelphia school district that secretly snapped tens of thousands of webcam photographs and screen shots on laptop computers issued to students.

The FBI and federal prosecutors announced last week that they could not prove any criminal wrongdoing by Lower Merion school district employees.

The FBI investigated the 6,900-student district for possible wiretap violations after a student filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the district had photographed him 400 times over a 15-day period last fall, sometimes as he was half-dressed or asleep in his bedroom. A second student has also sued.

District officials said their technology staff only activated the remote-tracking system to try to find laptops that had been reported lost or stolen. But they acknowledged that the software system sometimes remained activated for weeks or months, even after a laptop was found, causing the district to capture 56,000 images.

The announcement of no charges followed a school board decision to prohibit the remote use of the tracking software without the written consent of students and their parents or guardians.

Vol. 30, Issue 01, Page 4

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