Insurance Company For Web Cam Snooping School District Freaking Out

The school district outside Philly that has come under fire for installing and using remote webcam software to secretly take 56,000 photos and screenshots of students and others is now in trouble with their insurance company, says the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In papers filed in federal court, Graphic Arts Mutual Insurance Co. contends that none of the allegations in the suit filed by Harriton High School sophomore Blake Robbins and his parents fits the definitions in the school district’s $1 million liability policy.

The Robbins suit says the district invaded his privacy, violated his civil rights, and broke wiretapping and other laws when it secretly activated the Web camera on his school-issued laptop in the fall.

“Those allegations do not state any claims for ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ as those terms are defined in the policy,” Graphic Arts Mutual said in its complaint, filed last week.

If the courts agree with the insurer, the impact could be costly for the Lower Merion district, which has hired lawyers from an elite Philadelphia law firm, Ballard Spahr L.L.P., and specialists from L3 Communications Corp., a computer forensics firm, to defend itself in the suit and to investigate the now-disabled laptop-tracking system.

According to the Inquirer the majority of the photos were taken by the district in an effort to recover stolen or lost laptops, but that the cameras may not have been turned off in a timely fashion after the laptops were recovered.

“The taking of these pictures without student consent in their homes was obviously wrong,” a lawyer for the school district said.

The lawyer for the student who is suing the school district told the Inquirer that the “now-disabled system had surreptitiously collected more than 400 photos of his client – including shots of him when he was shirtless and while he slept in his bed last fall – as well as thousands of images from other students’ computers.”

Lower Merion report: Web cams snapped 56,000 images [Philly]
N.Y. insurer balks at coverage for laptop suit [Philly]