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April 16, 2010

Startling Revelation In Laptop Spy Cam Case

Somebody here is going to jail (maybe several somebodies) and there will be a bunch of kids who see their college funds significantly increased courtesy of the taxpayers of this school district.

The system that Lower Merion school officials used to track lost and stolen laptops wound up secretly capturing thousands of images, including photographs of students in their homes, Web sites they visited, and excerpts of their online chats, says a new motion filed in a suit against the district.

More than once, the motion asserts, the camera on Robbins' school-issued laptop took photos of Robbins as he slept in his bed. Each time, it fired the images off to network servers at the school district.

Back at district offices, the Robbins motion says, employees with access to the images marveled at the tracking software. It was like a window into "a little LMSD soap opera," a staffer is quoted as saying in an e-mail to Carol Cafiero, the administrator running the program.

"I know, I love it," she is quoted as having replied.

And want to know where this gets really creepy?

According to the latest filing by the Robbinses, officials first activated the tracking software on a school-issued Apple MacBook that Robbins took home on Oct. 20.

Hundreds of times in the next two weeks, the filing says, the program did its job each time it was turned on: A tiny camera atop the laptop snapped a photo, software inside copied the laptop screen image, and a locating device recorded the Internet address - something that could help district technicians pinpoint where the machine was.

The system was designed to take a new picture every 15 minutes until it was turned off.

The material disclosed by the district contains hundreds of photos of Robbins and his family members - "including pictures of Blake partially undressed and of Blake sleeping," the motion states.

This stuff has gone beyond outrageous, well past creepy, and in
to the criminally invasive. Forget the Fourth Amendment – this violates every expectation of privacy that we can possibly have, and every bit of professional ethics as a teacher. I’m outraged.

And I’m also willing to bet that some of the surreptitiously snapped images of scantily-clad students will be found on home computers of Carol Cafiero and at least one other district employee. After all, the “soap opera” email makes it clear that she was sharing the images with someone else – and I’m sure that includes the juicy stuff.





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