Recipient of Stolen Laptop Able to Sue Absolute Software for Capturing Nude Photos

Paul Lilly

Absolute Software, maker of LoJack for Laptops and other theft tracking technology, found itself on the losing end of a court case after recording sexually driven chats and nude webcam exchanges from a stolen laptop, reports . The explicit images were handed over to local police and were used in conjunction with the laptops IP address to locate the couple in possession of the laptop.

Susan Clements-Jeffrey, a 52-year-old widow and longtime substitute teacher, purchased the laptop from a student who told her it was a gift from his aunt and uncle, but was no longer needed since he received a new one. But it wasn't a gift and was instead stolen from the Clark County School District, which purchased and installed LoJack for Laptops.

Once the laptop was reported stolen, Absolute Software started tracking it and recorded its IP address when Clements-Jeffrey hopped online to reconnect with her high-school sweetheart, Carlton Smith. Sexually charged emails, IMs, and webcam sessions passed back and forth between the two. Normally Absolute Software would capture and send the IP address to local law enforcement and let them handle the rest, but in this case, Absolute's theft office Kyle Magnus decided to intercept communication between Clements-Jeffrey and Smith. That information was forwarded to local police, and in court documents, Clements-Jeffrey claims the arresting officer "laughed at her, called her stupid, and told her that she should have known better than to do that kind of stuff on the webcam." The berating allegedly continued.

"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,," U.S. District Judge Walter Rice wrote in his decision. "It is something entirely different to violate federal wiretapping laws by intercepting the electronic communications of the person using the stolen laptop."

The stolen laptop charges against Clements-Jeffrey were dismissed a week after her arrest. Absolute Software had sought a Motion for Summary Judgement, but was denied by the judge, paving the way for the couple to sue the firm.

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