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    Events of Interest: Senate Hearing on Pennsylvania School’s Webcam Surveillance (March 29)

    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:

    Kevin Bankston
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    San Francisco, California

    Robert Richardson
    Director
    Computer Security Institute (CSI)
    Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

    Larry Silver
    Partner
    Langsam Stevens & Silver, L.L.P.
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Marc Rotenberg
    President
    Electronic Information Privacy Center
    Washington, D.C.

    John Livingston
    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

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