Webcam spy case could see resolution
LOWER MERION, Pa. - March 10, 2010 (WPVI) -- Both sides in the so-called webcam spy case have come to an agreement on what they hope will be a resolution.
Pursuant to the order, Federal Judge Jan DuBois is giving the Lower Merion School District an extra 30 days to respond to the lawsuit so that its computer forensic specialists can complete their examination of the school's laptop tracking software. It's trying to determine when and how many times the software was used and what evidence was obtained from its use.
It's information that lawyers for both the school district and the plaintiffs would like to get their hands on and both agree that this agreement will save both a lot of time and money.
"Try to get our handle around the information and if we can, then sit down, try to figure out how do we solve this problem early on before you spend a lot of money on lawyers on both sides," Mark Haltzman, the attorney for the plaintiff, 15-year-old student Blake Robbins, said.
Blake's family is suing the district, alleging that Harriton High School officials took a photo of him inside his home. He learned of it when an assistant principal said she knew he was engaging in improper behavior at home, according to his potentially class-action lawsuit.
On February 19, Robbins and his family told Action that an official mistook a piece of candy for a pill and thought he was selling drugs.
Lower Merion officials have confirmed they had activated the webcams to try to find 42 missing laptops, without the knowledge or permission of students and their families.
The school district has hired L-3 Communications out of New York City to conduct the examination of the school's tracking software; it is a New York defense contractor which specializes in surveillance and secure communications.
Dr. Robert D'Ovidio, an assistant professor in the criminal justice program at Drexel University, who specializes in electronic crime, says as good as L-3 is at what they do, they may not find everything they're looking for.
The reason being school districts are not mandated to have retention policies for storing data.
"And the second question would be how long were they stored for, because we don't know, what the retention polices were, if they had retention policies," D'Ovidio said.
At the request of Haltzman, the court rescinded a prior order that required the district to notify him 6 hours in an advance of any updates to constituents about the case. The district says it's now able to provide updates to the community as developments warrant.
Meanwhile, the FBI is conducting its own forensic examination.
pennsylvania, montgomery county, webcam controversy, local/state, dann cuellar
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