Federal agents can examine webcam photos and other information secretly collected from students' laptops and stored in the Lower Merion School District's computer network, a judge has ruled.
Acting on a request from federal prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois agreed to broaden an earlier order that limited the release of the photos to the students or their parents and lawyers. His order was signed Friday and made public Monday.
FBI agents and prosecutors want to review the images to see whether any laws were broken when school district employees activated a tracking system that snapped photos and copied screen images from lost or stolen laptops.
Lower Merion school officials have acknowledged poor planning and oversight led the tracking system to capture at least 50,000 images - some showing teens or their relatives in their homes - from laptops that had already been returned to students.
DuBois signed the order after the school district and the parents of Harriton High School sophomore Blake Robbins said they wouldn't object to the prosecutors' request.
Robbins has filed a lawsuit alleging the monitoring represented an invasion of students' privacy.
Their privacy has become an ongoing concern in the so-called webcamgate controversy. Families and the ACLU have weighed in as a second judge sets up a process for having students and their parents review the images captured by the now-disabled tracking system.
DuBois conditioned his order by saying that "the government shall do all that is reasonable to protect the privacy interests of students and family members whose images and/or communications were captured in photographs and screen shots."