Vancouver-based Absolute Software has reached a settlement with an Ohio woman who alleges the company violated privacy laws by sharing sexually-explicit images and messaging from her stolen laptop with police, according to the CBC. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and lawyers involved in the case have repeatedly stated they cannot discuss the terms of the deal.
The plaintiff is also suing the Springfield, Ohio, police.
Absolute Software makes LoJack for Laptops, an embedded security product that attempts to track computers via the Internet once they are reported stolen. Back in 2008, the Ohio woman bought the laptop from a ninth-grade student, having no idea it had previously been stolen from another student at an Ohio vocational school. Absolute Software located the notebook, and shared details of its activity with police—including webcam images and instant messages. Police went to the plaintiff’s house, showed her copies of the sexually-explicit images, and arrested her for receiving stolen property, although the charges were quickly dropped.
The plaintiff and her boyfriend filed suit over the incident in 2009. Last week, U.S. District Judge Walter Rice cleared the way for the lawsuit to go to trial, ruling “A reasonable jury could find that they [Absolute Software] crossed an impermissible boundary when they intercepted plaintiffs’ instant messages and webcam communications.”
Security firms trying to track down stolen mobile devices often attempt to snap pictures of users with an integrated webcam in an effort to identify culprits.