I talked about the school issued missing computers last May. See blog post. The Philadelphia school district then activated the webcams on the laptops in the hopes of finding them. But, as it turns out, most were not stolen, at all. So, the district inadvertently downloaded thousands of pictures of various families in their homes. It was a huge invasion of privacy.
Well, now the district has settled one case for $610,000. See Chicago Tribune story. The tracking program was accidentally left on months after the laptops were located. Some 56,000 unnecessary images were taken by the district. The student who settled his case, Blake Robbins, then 15 years old, said he never reported the laptop was stolen and did not understand why the tracking program was activated. The webcam system took some 400 pictures of him over a two week period.
Blake received $175,000 to be placed in a trust for him. The lawyer received $425,000. The article does not explain, but I assume that was the lawyer’s attorney’s fees. Most civil rights statutes contain an attorney’s fees provision.
The district no longer uses the web tracking program. With this case, we start getting some idea of the limits on computer technology and privacy concerns.