Lawsuit Alleges School Spied on Student by Remote MacBook Camera Activation

A lawsuit from the parents of a high school student makes the shocking allegation that school officials spied on a student at his house by remotely activating the camera on his MacBook and taking a picture of what the school said was "improper behavior in his home."

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the suit, which was filed in a U.S. District Court by Michael E. and Holly S. Robbins on behalf of their son. According to the suit, unnamed officials at Harriton High School in Rosemont, PA, spied on the student through the camera, and an assistant principal at the school then confronted the student for his "improper behavior," citing a photo taken during the episode.

The Lower Merion School District issued MacBooks to all of its 2,290 high school students, including the students of Harriton High School, and the lawsuit claims parents were never told that the camera on the laptop could be remotely activated. The suit also claims that activating the camera remotely is a violation of both federal and state wiretapping laws, as well as a violation of their son's civil rights.

In addition, the suit claims that activating the camera could result in, "images of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including, but not limited to, in various states of undress."

A spokesman for the school district denied knowledge of the suit to The Inquirer, and stressed that the MacBook program had been beneficial to students.

"Our district was one of the first to provide free laptops to all of our high school students," spokesperson Doug Young said. "This initiative has been incredibly successful and well received in our school community."

Thanks to our friends at Loop Insight for the heads up on the suit.