Official: FBI probing school webcam spying case

The FBI reportedly is probing whether any federal wiretap laws were violated.
The FBI reportedly is probing whether any federal wiretap laws were violated.

A Pennsylvania school district accused of secretly switching on laptop computer webcams inside students’ homes is under investigation by federal authorities, a law-enforcement official with knowledge of the case told the Associated Press (AP).

For its part, the district says it never used webcam images to monitor or discipline students and believes one of its administrators has been “unfairly portrayed and unjustly attacked.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation will look into whether any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws were violated by Lower Merion School District officials, the official—who spoke on condition of anonymity—told the AP on Feb. 19.…Read More

School district sued for using webcams to spy on students

Students reportedly have put tape over the webcams in their school-issued laptops in light of the allegations.
Students reportedly have put tape over the webcams in their school-issued laptops in light of the allegations.

A suburban Philadelphia school district used the webcams in school-issued laptop computers to spy on students at home, potentially catching them and their families in compromising situations, a family claims in a federal lawsuit.

Lower Merion School District officials would not comment on the accusation, but angry students already have responded by putting tape on their laptop cameras and microphones.

Sophomore Tom Halperin described students as “pretty disgusted” and noted that his class recently read 1984, the George Orwell classic that coined the term “Big Brother.”…Read More

Google rebuts DOJ objections to digital book deal

Google is taking on the DOJ in defending its revised book-scanning settlement.
Google is taking on the DOJ in defending its book-scanning settlement.

Google Inc. wants the digital rights to millions of books badly enough that it’s willing to take on the U.S. Department of Justice in a court battle over whether the internet search leader’s book-scanning ambitions would break antitrust and copyright laws—a battle with important implications for students, teachers, scholars, and researchers.

The stage for the showdown was set Feb. 11 with a Google court filing that defended the $125 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit the company reached with U.S. authors and publishers more than 14 months ago.

Google’s 67-page filing includes a rebuttal to the Justice Department’s belief that the settlement would thwart competition in the book market and undermine copyright law. The brief also tries to overcome a chorus of criticism from several of its rivals, watchdog groups, state governments, and even some foreign governments.…Read More

Feds still troubled by Google Books deal

Federal officials think Google's revised book-scanning settlement still gives the company too much power.
Federal officials think Google's revised book-scanning settlement still gives the company too much power.

The U.S. Justice Department still thinks a proposal to give Google the digital rights to millions of hard-to-find books threatens to stifle competition and undermine copyright laws, despite revisions aimed at easing those concerns.

The opinion filed Feb. 4 in New York federal court is a significant setback in Google’s effort to win approval of a 15-month-old legal settlement that would put the internet search leader in charge of a vast electronic library and store.

A diverse mix of Google rivals, consumer watchdogs, academic experts, literary agents, state governments, and even foreign governments already have urged U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to reject the agreement.…Read More