There seems to be a lot happening with this story. To recap: In a class-action lawsuit — Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (pdf) — in Pennsylvania, there are allegations that the Lower Merion School District misused Web-cam-enabled laptops it issued to students in order to remotely peep into the students’ homes and violate their privacy. The school district has denied violating anyone’s privacy, claiming the Web cams were only turned on in case of lost or stolen computers. The school district also said that it has disabled the remote camera activation feature.
Now, the Associated Press reports that the FBI is investigating the matter, and the Montgomery County District Attorney may also open an inquiry.
The FBI will explore whether Lower Merion School District officials broke any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws, said [a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case], who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the investigation. […]
The district has suspended the practice amid the lawsuit and the accompanying uproar from students, the community and privacy advocates. District officials hired outside counsel to review the past webcam activations and advise the district on related issues, [district spokesman Doug Young] said. […]
The Pennsylvania case shows how even well-intentioned plans can go awry if officials fail to understand the technology and its potential consequences, privacy experts said. Compromising images from inside a student’s bedroom could fall into the hands of rogue school staff or otherwise be spread across the Internet, they said. […]
Lower Merion, an affluent district in Philadelphia’s suburbs, issues Apple laptops to all 2,300 students at its two high schools. Only two employees in the technology department were authorized to activate the cameras – and only to locate missing laptops, Young said. The remote activations captured images but never recorded sound, he said.