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A federal judge is being asked to stop Lower Merion School District officials from removing any information from the 2,300 laptops issued to high school students.

Lawyers for the school district that has been accused in a class action lawsuit of spying on students in their homes are due in court today.

Mark Haltzman, the lawyer for 16-year-old Harriton High School student Blake Robbins, his family, and other students, said he needs to preserve evidence on the computers.

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In the lawsuit filed Feb. 11, Robbins alleges that school administrators remotely activated the webcam on the school-issued laptop and took photos of him in his home holding pill-shaped objects. Robbins said that an assistant principal later used the photos to show that the teen was engaged in “improper behavior.”

The FBI is now investigating whether the district broke federal wiretap and computer use laws. A network technician said that the webcam system, when triggered, would snap as many as 20 photos of whoever was using a computer or visibly in the vicinity of the laptop, the Inquirer reported.

Legality of the alleged webcam use aside, Robbins and his family claim the item the teen was holding were Mike-N-Ike candies.

While the school district has admitted that it never told parents or students of the remote access feature, district superintendent Christopher McGinley stated on the district Web site Friday that, “At no time did any high school administrator have the ability or actually access the security- tracking software.”

McGinley said that the remote Web cam activation only took place in the 2009-10 school year to locate 42 missing or lost laptops. Officials say they have now abandoned the practice.

In a statement Sunday, district lawyer Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. said his law firm will investigate the facts and report its findings to the board. If any mistakes were made, the law firm will make recommendations for policy changes, Hockeimer said.

via nbc philadelphia dot com

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