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Student Sues High School For Allegedly Spying On Him Via Webcam

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A teenage boy in Philadelphia, Joshua Levin, is suing his former high school district after being “humiliated and severely emotionally distressed.” The reason?  His laptop, issued by the school, captured photos of screenshots of the boy without his knowledge, according to a lawsuit filed against the district. Levin received the computer – it comes with a webcam – as part of the district’s one-to-one laptop program for high school students (Levin attended Harriton High School).

The suit claims that the Lower Merion School District violated Levin’s civil rights by taking nearly 8,000 webcam photos and screenshots from his laptop during the school year. The district claims it used the software – a remote tracking system – simply as a means to locate missing computers. Staffers activated the webcams on more than 40 laptops after students reported the computers lost or stolen, then forgot to turn them off after the laptops were recovered.

This marks the second time the district has been sued by a student for alleged spying. The other case, dubbed “Spygate,” issued former student Blake Robbins $175,000 (plus court costs) late last year. The photos taken of Robbins include images of him sleeping in his bed, as well as pictures of his family. There’s no word yet on what was captured in the Levin case.

Suing the district is a bold move for Levin but I commend him for it. Being monitored like that is a total invasion of privacy and, frankly, it’s inexcusable. Could you imagine being watched as you sit here reading this article? Now imagine feeling that way as a teenager.