PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A suburban Philadelphia school district accused in a lawsuit of secretly switching on laptop computer webcams inside students' homes says one of its administrators has been "unfairly portrayed and unjustly attacked."
The Lower Merion School District has acknowledged remotely activating webcams 42 times to try to find missing, lost or stolen computers, which would include a loaner computer taken off campus against regulations.
One family alleges a school official mistook a piece of candy in a webcam photo for a pill and thought the youth was selling drugs. The district says in a statement Saturday that the official was trying "to be supportive" and denies that the photo was being used to discipline the student.
Officials say the system has now been "completely disabled."
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press on Friday that the FBI will explore whether Lower Merion School District officials broke any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws,
Remote-activation software can be used to capture keystrokes, send commands over the Internet or turn computers into listening devices by turning on built-in microphones. People often use it for legitimate purposes—to access computers from remote locations, for example. But hackers can use it to steal passwords and spouses to track the whereabouts of partners or lovers.
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