On March 29, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs will hold a field hearing — “Video Laptop Surveillance: Does Title III Need to Be Updated?” — on the laptop Webcam surveillance scandal at the Lower Merion School District. In a February lawsuit — Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (pdf) — in Pennsylvania, the Robbins family alleged that the Lower Merion School District misused Webcam-enabled laptops it issued to students in order to remotely peep into the students’ homes, take photographs and violate their privacy. The school district has denied violating anyone’s privacy, claiming the Webcams were only turned on in case of lost or stolen computers. Student Blake Robbins says he was shown a Webcam photograph of him allegedly taking drugs. The Robbins family said there was no improper behavior and that the so-called drugs in the photo were Mike and Ike’s candies.
Subcommittee Chairman Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) told the the Philadelphia Inquirer: “The issue is one of surreptitious eavesdropping. Unbeknownst to people, their movements and activities were under surveillance. . . . The matter is in court on a civil suit and under investigation by the FBI. There is an issue whether we need federal legislation to deal with the technological advances.”
The scheduled witnesses are:
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
San Francisco, California
Computer Security Institute (CSI)
Langsam Stevens & Silver, L.L.P.
Electronic Information Privacy Center
Chairman and CEO
Absolute Software Corporation (acquired LANrev Theft Track)
Vancouver, BC Canada
Date: Monday, March 29, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Location: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), Courtroom 3B; Philadelphia, Pa.
For more information: http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=4492