Remote scan of student’s room before test violates his privacy, judge rules

Author: Yuvi August 26, 2022 Remote scan of student's room before test violates his privacy, judge rules

A federal judge said Monday that it was unconstitutional for a university in Ohio to scan a chemistry student’s bedroom before taking a remote exam, a decision that could affect how popular schools are during the COVID-19 pandemic. use remote-monitoring software. ,

The student’s right to privacy, Aaron M. Ogletree, outweighs the interests of Cleveland State University, judge J. Philip Calabrese of the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ruled. The judge ordered Mr Ogletree and the university’s lawyers to discuss possible remedies for the case.

The use of virtual software to remotely monitor examinees exploded during the first years of the coronavirus pandemic, when millions of students suddenly had to take online classes to reduce the spread of the disease. Students and privacy experts have raised concerns about these programs, which can detect keystrokes and collect feeds from computers’ cameras and microphones.

Mathieu de Besser, an attorney representing Mr Ogletree, said his client felt “right” by the decision. “Standing up not only for his own privacy but for the privacy rights of public school students across the country was something he felt very strongly about,” Mr. Besser said.

Cleveland State University, like many other schools, offered online courses before the pandemic and in 2016 published guidelines on how to manage these classes. The policies did not require or recommend the use of room scans, but faculty members could decide whether or not. To scan the rooms for a trial, said the judge’s opinion.

The university offered a mix of distance and in-person classes in the spring semester of 2021, but it allowed Mr Ogletree, now 25, to take classes in person due to “various health issues affecting his immune system”. did not allow. He is at a high risk in the pandemic, court papers said.

In January 2021, Mr. Ogletree took issue with a room-scan policy in his General Chemistry II class, requiring that students taking exams remotely be required to show their work area before, during, or after the test. to be asked for, the court papers said. Mr Ogletree disputed the policy and it was removed from the classroom curriculum three days later, court papers said.

The following month, two hours before the General Chemistry II test, the university’s testing service told Mr Ogletree in an email that the proctor would check his work area before the test. Mr. Ogletree replied that the bedroom where he was taking the test contained confidential documents including 1099 forms and that he would not be able to save them before the exam.

Court papers said Mr Ogletree still complied with the scan request, which lasted anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds to a minute. He then sued the school, which he still attends, claiming it violated his Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

Judge Calabrese concurred in his decision. “Holding otherwise, as the defendants argue, raises an even more difficult question as to what legal standard, if any, may be governed by the potential consequences of such a decision in scans and other areas of life and technology touching governs the law,” he wrote.

The judge ordered Mr Ogletree and the university’s lawyers to discuss possible remedies in the case and provide an update in September.

The school’s legal representation, Dave Yost, who is Ohio’s attorney general, is reviewing the decision and consulting with the university on potential next steps, Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

“Ensuring academic integrity is essential to our mission and will guide us as we move forward,” Dave Kilmeier, an associate vice president at Cleveland State University, said in an email. “While this matter is under active litigation, we are unable to comment further.”

Mr Besser said that if the court decided to issue an order or injunction against the process, it would only apply to Cleveland State University but could serve as a warning or precedent for other public universities.

“The implications are too important to ignore,” he said. “I think every public school across the country needs to take this decision into consideration and start considering eliminating these virtual searches of student homes or implementing some safety measures.”

Mr Besser said it was a legitimate interest to protect test integrity, but he hopes the case inspires schools to do something that is not intrusive to protect students.

Students who do not want their home environment to be shown on camera cannot be expected to find a different place to take the test, Mr Besser said. Health issues or family responsibilities such as caring for a child may prevent a student from having the option of being tested elsewhere.

Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, a non-profit organization that advocates for stronger protection of people’s digital rights, likens these platforms to spyware.

“Since the pandemic and with the advent of distance learning there has been an explosion of this kind of school-mandated surveillance,” she said. “So it’s something we’ve been trying very hard to draw a line about in the sand.”

Bill Fitzgerald, a privacy researcher, said some proctoring software allows an exam-monitoring person to take control of students’ devices, which raises privacy concerns in addition to room scans.

“These systems have a spotty track record when it comes to security,” he said. “But even though they had a phenomenal track record in terms of security, they are intrusive and they reflect a power imbalance and distrust of students.”

Lucy Satison, 19, was uncomfortable showing a stranger her bedroom, where she was on drugs, when she was a computer science student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her experience and that of her peers led her to research exam monitoring security and algorithms.

“It’s an intrusion into my and other people’s private spaces,” she said.

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

26 August, 2022, 4:16 am

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