Judge greenlights privacy suit against LoJack for Laptops

LoJack for Laptops

Internet communications and location services can be useful for tracking down lost or stolen devices—but all that tracking can have unintended consequences. A judge has ruled that a couple can sue Absolute Software—developers of the theft-recovery system LoJack for Laptops—after the company intercepted sexually explicit messages and images sent between the couple and shared them with police.

The story is a little convoluted. According to court documents, a laptop computer owned by a Springfield, Ohio, school district was lent to a vocational school student; while at the public library, the laptop was stolen and the theft reported to police. Some time later, another student at an alternative school purchased the laptop—which had had part of its serial number scratched off—for $40, and brought it to one of the plaintiffs, offering to sell it to her for $60. (The student claimed it belonged to his aunt and uncle, and that he had permission to sell it.) The plaintiff agreed on the condition the laptop could get up and running again; a third party re-installed an operating system and software, and the plaintiff took possession of the laptop.

However, the computer still had Absolute Software’s LoJack for Laptops installed, and the company had been logging the system’s IP address whenever it popped up on the Internet. After the plaintiff took possession of the laptop, Absolute Software began intercepting communications on the system, which included sexually explicit messages and webcam images with the second plaintiff, an old high school sweetheart with which the first plaintiff (a 52-year-old widow who works as a substitute teacher) had restarted a long-distance relationship. Absolute Software shared the intercepted communications with the police, who then went to the plaintiff’s house, confronted her with the materials, and placed her under arrest for receiving stolen property. Those charges were dropped a week later.

The lawsuit against Absolute Software—as well as the Springfield, Ohio, police department—alleges that the interception of the private communications violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and federal wiretapping laws. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs had no such rights since the notebook was stolen, but federal judge Herbert Rice has ruled that the case can go to trial, finding that a reasonable jury might find that the conduct of Absolute Software and the police department crossed an “impermissible boundary.”

If the case goes to trial—and that’s anybody’s guess, at this point—it may set an important precedent regarding what data can be legitimately collected by device recovery services.

Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Computing

Is it worth spending more for the Surface Pro, or is the Surface Go good enough?

The Surface Go versus Surface Pro -- which is better? While the higher price tag of one might make you think it's an easy choice, a deeper dive into what each offers makes it a closer race than you might assume.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Stop your PC's vow of silence with these tips on how to fix audio problems

Sound problems got you down? Don't worry, with a few tweaks and tricks we'll get your sound card functioning as it should, and you listening to your favorite tunes and in-game audio in no time.
Computing

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Computing

How to share an external hard drive between Mac and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.
Computing

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes that differentiate the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.
Computing

Chip off the auction block – Intel’s i9-9990XE may be sold to the highest bidder

Intel's alleged Core i9-9990XE may only be sold at auction to OEMs, meaning that only a few of the 14-core, 28-thread, 5GHz CPUs will ever see the light of day in specific devices and systems.
Android

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…