The complaint alleged that after the high schools issued Mac Book laptops with built-in i Sight webcams to the students, school staff remotely activated the laptops' webcams covertly while the students were off school property, thereby invading the students' privacy.
The defendants were the Lower Merion School District (LMSD) in Pennsylvania (of which the two high schools are part), its nine-member Board of Directors, and its Superintendent (Christopher Mc Ginley).
It cost .6 million, less than a third of which was covered by grants.
While Theft Track was not enabled by default on the software, the program allowed the school district to elect to activate it, and to enable whichever of Theft Track's surveillance options the school desired.
Eileen Lake of Wynnewood, whose three children attend district schools, said: "If there's a concern that laptops are misplaced or stolen, they should install a chip to locate them instead.
There shouldn't be a reason to use webcams for that purpose." Marc Rotenberg, Georgetown University Law School information privacy professor and President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said: "There are less intrusive ways to track stolen laptops, no question about it." Commenting on the now-discontinued Theft Track, Carol Cafiero (school district Information Systems Coordinator, and supervisor of 16 technicians and administrative assistants) wrote to her boss Virginia Di Medio (district Director of Technology for a number of years, until June 2009, and a member of the district Superintendent's five-person Cabinet) that district Network Technician Mike Perbix "loves it, and I agree it is a great product." Di Medio considered Perbix and Cafiero's recommendations that the district purchase the software, including a memo in which Cafiero noted that: "we can mark [a student's laptop as] stolen on the LANrev server, and then the laptop will take screenshots and pictures of the user with the built-in camera, and transmit that information back to our server." The district did not inform students or their parents, in any of its communications with them (including the district's promotion of the laptop program, guidelines about the laptops, and the individual contracts that it gave students to sign), that the laptops gave the district the ability to secretly snap photos of whatever was in the line of sight of the student-issued laptop webcams, and to take screenshots.
Five months later—pursuant to a court order in the Robbins case—it informed Hasan for the first time that it had secretly taken the photographs. Mc Ginley, Superintendent of Lower Merion School District The school based its decision to discipline Robbins on a photograph that had been secretly taken of him in his bedroom, via the webcam in his school-issued laptop. Senate Judiciary subcommittee held hearings on the issues raised by the schools' secret surveillance, and Senator Arlen Specter introduced draft legislation in the Senate to protect against it in the future. Lower Merion School District, the Board of Directors of the Lower Merion School District, and Christopher W.Some school officials reportedly denied that it was anything other than a technical glitch, and offered to have the laptops examined if students were concerned.Kline admitted the school could covertly photograph students using the laptops' cameras.In addition, two members of the Harriton High School student council twice privately confronted their Principal, Steven Kline, more than a year prior to the suit.They were concerned "that the school could covertly photograph students using the laptops' cameras." Students were particularly troubled by the momentary flickering of their webcams' green activation lights, which several students reported would periodically turn on when the camera wasn't in use, signaling that the webcam had been turned on.It was part of the school district's One-to-One initiative.The program was piloted in September 2008 at Harriton High School and expanded in September 2009 to Lower Merion High School.The students told him they were worried about privacy rights, asked whether the school system read the saved files on their computers, and suggested that at minimum the student body should be warned formally of possible surveillance.Building-Level Technician Kyle O'Brien testified later, at his deposition, that Harriton High School Assistant Vice Principal Lindy Matsko directed O'Brien to activate the tracking.