Two Incidences of Webcam Spying? Up to 10 Years in Prison. More Than 8,000 Incidences of Webcam Spying? No Charges.Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
It’s the rare case in which invasion of privacy may have resulted in someone’s death. I emphasize the “may” because it’s far from clear that the webcam spying was the direct cause of Clementi’s suicide; despite the overwhelming amount of digital evidence in the case, we have no way to know what was in Tyler Clementi’s head when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge. And regardless, that is not what Ravi is supposed to be punished for. He is supposed to be sentenced based solely on the actual spying he did, his intimidation of Clementi, and his futile attempts to discard the digital evidence in the case.
Should a twenty-year-old go to prison for 10 years for that? Should he be deported from the country? The judge has those options in sentencing, but they don’t seem just. Ravi’s spying on Clementi’s bedroom encounter was shameful and invasive, but he didn’t push Clementi off of that bridge. We shouldn’t sentence him as if he did.
The opinion consensus seems to be shifting on this case. Of course now that Ravi has been convicted, the only opinion that matters belongs to the judge.
But Hill’s column reminded me of another webcam spying case. Remember this one?
A suburban Philadelphia school district embroiled in a webcam spy scandal was hit Tuesday with new allegations that a student-issued laptop secretly recorded more than 8,000 images.
The latest accusations, which were said to occur during a six-month period ending September 2008, has left the high school student “shocked, humiliated and severely emotionally distressed,” (.pdf) according to a federal invasion-of-privacy lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.
As part of an FBI investigation and a lawsuit brought by a different student, a judge had contacted the boy’s parents informing him of the breach, and invited them to view the pictures. The youth’s parents were shown 4,404 webcam photographs and 3,978 screenshots captured with the Lower Merion School District–issued MacBook.
The amount of photos represents the largest publicly known number of images secretly recorded in the webcam scandal.
The latest lawsuit follows the October out-of-court settlement in which the district agreed to pay $610,000 to end two privacy lawsuits brought by two students who were also victims of the webcam spying scandal.
Want to guess how many Lower Merion School District Officials did prison time? Not a single one. They weren’t even charged, not even with misdemeanors. And of course the taxpayers, not the spying school officials, paid the settlement.