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Opinion: School Officials "Stumbled Badly"

STUDENT PRIVACY

April 23, 2010

A Philadelphia Inquirer editorial asserts that Lower Merion School District officials "stumbled badly" by not informing students and their families that Web cams on their school-issued laptops could be activated as an anti-theft measure. "The sheer volume of Web cam photos snapped by [the district]...indicates how oblivious school officials were to students' privacy rights," the editorial states. Investigators revealed this week that the district collected 56,000 images. "The taking of these pictures without student consent in their homes was obviously wrong," said the attorney leading the school district's inquiry. The discovery that district officials had activated Web cams without students' knowledge has prompted a federal lawsuit, an FBI investigation and the introduction of the Surreptitious Video Surveillance Act.
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