Feds Won't Bring Charges Against School District Officials In Webcam Spying

from the criminal-intent dept

There have been a couple of new developments in the saga of the suburban Philadelphia school district, the Lower Merion School District, that was sued by a student, after that student was disciplined (supposedly for eating candy) using photos taken by secretly installed and used webcam spying software. The school initially claimed that it only used the software 42 times, but an investigation founded 58,000 photos were taken -- including hundreds of another student, who has now also sued.

As stories came out about administrators enjoying spying on students -- referring to it as a window into their own "little... soap opera," the FBI got involved. However, the prosecutors are now saying that they won't bring charges, because there is no evidence of criminal intent. That shouldn't impact the various civil lawsuits, of course.

At the same time, Julian Sanchez points us to the news that after all of this, the school district has finally put in place new policies designed "to govern the use and tracking of student laptops and other technology." Seems like, perhaps, that should have been in place a wee bit earlier.
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Filed Under: feds, high school, investigation, webcam


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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 18 Aug 2010 @ 8:44pm

    Re: Re:

    If any of the images are classified as 'Indecent Images' (or Child Pornography for the layperson) then there is no intent necessary for the laying of criminal charges in these cases. Mens Rae does not need to be proven, and lack of such is no defence under current US statutes [same applies for EU/CAN/UK/NZ/AU laws], though "state of mind' can have some forbearance on matters in a criminal trial situation.

    From reading the actual complaints in this case(s) whether there is Indecent Imaging should not be first chargeable anyway instead trespass should be.

    The allegation is that the school KNOWINGLY allowed a device to enter PRIVATE premises, with the ability to RECORD images (and maybe audio which is an entirely other problem) WITHOUT CONSENT of the owners of those premises.

    The owners of the premises had an absolute expectation of privacy. The pictures were taken. The pictures were viewed & therefore published (even if only to a few). The pictures were archived for future perusal

    Though some states in the USA have a two party system for recording of visual/audio. Meaning all parties to a recording have to agree, most states are on the standard One party system (only the person recording needs to be in attendance). These don't even come under that system since they were done remotely.. That is trespass at least.. Espionage at worst (maybe one of the parents had a job with the DoD or DoE and had secret clearance.. could be an interesting spin on that). Also there was an absolute expectation of privacy.

    The taking of these pictures cannot be confused with the rule that anyone on public property can take pictures of anything/anyone seen from that public property , unless they are being used for lewd purposes, due to all of the above facts.

    If it was myself as one of the parents involved in this debacle, I would seriously talk to some lawyers about a charge of misprision on the actual DA/FBI themselves now. But hey.. thats me

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