Lower Merion School District's Web cam surveillance controversy, already the topic of a federal lawsuit and intense community debate, has become the focus of a scheduled U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) said this afternoon that the judiciary subcommittee on crime and drugs, which he chairs, would hold a special hearing in Philadelphia March 29 on the use of remote tracking software to take pictures using the student-issued computers' built-in cameras.

"The issue is one of surreptitious eavesdropping," Specter said. "Unbeknownst to people, their movements and activities were under surveillance. . . .

"The matter is in court on a civil suit and under investigation by the FBI. There is an issue whether we need federal legislation to deal with the technological advances."