Pennsylvania school accused of e-spying

The parents of Blake Robbins, a student who attends a school in the Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania, filed a class action law suit against the district on Feb. 19.

The parents claim that the school took advantage of the technology offered with the school’s laptops and covertly spied on their child.

Robbins said that he was accused of selling drugs by an associate principal on Nov. 11 after she saw him with pills in his bedroom. The principal cited this information with a picture taken from Robbins’ laptop. The pills turned out to be Mike and Ikes.

With the assistant principal’s accusations came a national controversy. The situation left people wondering if the school system could legally monitor student activity at home using means not revealed to the student. Some think this is a direct infringement against the Fourth Amendment which guards Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures.

According to the District’s superintendent, the original intentions of the use of webcams weren’t to spy on students but to track stolen or missing laptops. It still didn’t answer the question as to why Robbins’ system activated and took a picture.

“A school doing this is unbelievable,” junior Joey Schmits said. “I understand the school wanting to keep track of their items, but it has to stop at a certain point.”

The Lower Merion School District stated that they have only used the laptop security system 42 times in the past 14 months and recovered 28 missing laptops. The system has now been deactivated.

“It’s beyond my comprehension,” associate principal Tom Moss said. “I wouldn’t think would ever do this. It’s very well an invasion of privacy.”

Even with the reassurance that laptops at Northwest do not have the capabilities of spying, some students still are uncomfortable with the possibility of any school district doing this.

“I don’t like the thought of a district taking advantage of technology like this,” Schmits said. “It’s disheartening.”