Feds: No Charges In Pa. Webcam School Spying Case

according to a Tuesday report Philadelphia Inquirer

It's the latest surprising twist in a case that began in February, when the parents of Harriton High School sophomore Blake Robbins sued Pennsylvania's Lower Merion School District for allegedly monitoring their son using the Webcam on his school-issued laptop.

An internal school district probe found that the school IT staffers used a remote laptop tracking application installed on students' laptops to take approximately 56,000 photos of students and locations inside their homes over a two year period.

The FBI began its investigation six months ago, but hasn't been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that school district officials acted with criminal intent, according to U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger.

"We have not found evidence that would establish beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone involved had criminal intent," Memeger said in a statement issued Tuesday.

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Security solution providers in May told CRN the case is a classic example of how technology can be abused in the name of security. School officials activated the LANrev Theft Track solution -- now known as Absolute Manage TheftTrack -- whenever students reported their laptops stolen or missing. LANrev snaps a Web cam images every 15 seconds to remotely track lost or stolen notebook PCs.

Absolute Software, which sells the product, has decried the school's use of the product as "vigilantism." That's because in several instances, school officials didn't turn off the software once the laptop had been located, so the software ended up capturing thousands of images of students and their family members that had nothing to do with any investigation.

Without the proper policies and procedures in place to ensure responsible use, tools like LANRev can open up companies to significant liability, according to security experts.

In an April court filing, Robbins' lawyers claimed that school officials left the tracking software running on his laptop for 15 days and took over 400 Web cam images and screen shots of his private IM conversations.

Robbins' parents filed suit after a school administrator reportedly confronted Robbins, accused him of engaging in "improper behavior," produced an image taken from his laptop Web cam as evidence. Later, it emerged that the school administrator suspected Robbins was taking pills, when he had actually been eating Mike and Ike's candies.

Robbins' case, as well as two related civil lawsuits, are still pending, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.