Laptop recovery software can help you recover stolen goods, but one laptop recovery firm may have stepped (or perhaps stomped) over a privacy line when its agents intercepted images from an explicit webcam session between the holder of a stolen laptop and her boyfriend.
Wired reports on an Ohio woman who was unwittingly using a stolen laptop and was caught with it because it had laptop tracking software on it provided by Absolute Software. The stolen property charges were dismissed in court relatively quickly. So far, so ordinary, but in this case she’s alleging that Absolute stepped over a line when it moved from simply tracking IP addresses, which any laptop or smartphone tracking solution tends to do. Apple, for example, is apparently looking at beefing up its Find My iPhone service soon.
Where it gets messy is that Absolute’s agents also allegedly started intercepting email messages and took screenshots of the woman when she was engaged in rather explicit webcam communication with her boyfriend. She’s suing for invasion of privacy, something that Absolute sought to have summarily quashed. So far, it’s not winning, with the judge in question ruling in the woman’s favour, stating in his summary judgement that
‘It is one thing to cause a stolen computer to report its IP address or its geographical location in an effort to track it down. It is something entirely different to violate federal wiretapping laws by intercepting the electronic communications of the person using the stolen laptop.’
Plenty of laptop monitoring software includes remote screenshot capabilities. Do you think this crosses the line? [Wired]