Federal prosecutors announced today that they would not be filing charges against the Pennsylvania school district that installed software on its laptops to remotely monitor students. In February, a student sued the district, claiming that his school's laptop webcam photographed him over 400 times over a two week period. Investigators said they found no evidence of criminal intent on the part of the Lower Merion School District employees.

The district acknowledges they captured some 58,000 screenshots and images, but said this was part of a laptop recovery project. The student who sued claims he never reported his laptop missing or stolen.

I have really mixed feelings about all of this. On one hand, I completely understand schools needing to have security devices on their equipment. But why not something like LoJack that pinpoints the location of the laptop, rather than something that snaps a photo and/or a screenshot every couple of minutes? The district said they also captured the student's video and chat messages. I don't know -- it strikes me as though the "security" features on these laptops were really about monitoring students, not solving crime.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives