Student sues the school that kept spying on its own students

The school boards in the former colony of Virginia seem to think that they have the power of gods over their kids.

Not only do kids in the US have to put up with boards tying to ban the teaching of evolution in favour of science defying bible studies classes, they also have to put up with being spied on 24/7.

A former student at a suburban Philadelphia high school has sued his school district for allegedly spying on him and his family using a school-issued Mac laptop.

It is the second time that Lower Merion School District has been sued by a student for spying on him. The other case dubbed “Spygate” was settled last October when Lower Merion agreed to pay Blake Robbins $175,000 and cover $425,000 in court costs.

Now Joshua Levin, a 2009 graduate of Herriton High, claims the district violated his civil rights and privacy by remotely activating the notebook’s built-in camera to take photographs and screenshots.

A Lower Merion spokesman Doug Young called Levin’s lawsuit “solely motivated by monetary interests and a complete waste of the taxpayer’s dollars.” Not like spying on kids.

According to ComputerWorld, Lower Merion acknowledged it had activated cameras on the school-provided MacBook system to track lost or stolen laptops, but denied it was using them to spy on students.

Levin said that Lower Merion used his laptop to take more than 8,000 photographs and screenshots between September 2008 and March 2009. He is one of 76 students who were spied on by the school.

Like the other 75 he only discovered that he had been spied on when a report commissioned by the district uncovered more than 30,000 photographs and another 27,000 screenshots taken when the tracking and security software was activated by district IT personnel.

Levin said he had not known about his Mac’s secret spying ability until he received a letter from Lower Merion in 2010 informing him that he could view the images as a result of the inquiry.

The lawsuit said that Levin’s younger brother noticed that the light in the camera would go off and on at odd times, wondering if the family was being ‘spied on.’

However, his mum said the idea was crazy as the notion that the school district was secretly monitoring and taking pictures of students was incomprehensible and beyond all rational belief.

It is not clear what the camera snapped him doing.

Apparently the reason they were monitoring him was because Levin’s laptop was one of six that had been reported stolen in 2008, and was eventually recovered by local police. Quite why they kept needing to film him afterwards is anyone’s guess.