Federal judge orders school district to stop spying on students

The order, issued Wednesday by a federal judge, will prevent school administrators from turning on cameras installed on students' school-issued laptops remotely.

The move arrives at the request of a Lower Merion family, which claimed school officials were wrong to activate the camera, snap a photo of their son and confront him about its contents.

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The school district told reporters on Wednesday it would comply with that order. Part of that directive includes a temporary gag on all communications regarding the family's privacy lawsuit.

The security technology installed in Lower Merion's school-issued computers permits administrators to activate cameras remotely, primarily as a way to ensure the laptops are not stolen.

Technicians said they have activated the technology 42 times this year to take photos of suspects believed to be damaging laptops or otherwise committing wrongdoing — precisely the reason they turned it on the case of the 15-year-old Harriton High School student now pressing charges.

Instead, they captured a photo of the student engaging in "improper activity" — drug use, administrators believed, though that later turned out not to be the case, the family said.

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