How to Fight Scans: Protecting Your Privacy Rights During Online Exams
Virtual exams have become increasingly common in recent years, and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, as most US universities temporarily shifted to virtual instruction. While remote testing is likely to continue, it has raised concerns about privacy rights and Fourth Amendment protections. In particular, the practice of scanning student rooms before online exams has led to legal disputes about whether this constitutes an unconstitutional search. This article explores the legal and practical implications of room scans during virtual exams, and provides tips on how students can protect their privacy rights.
The Legal Battle Over Room Scans
The case of Ogletree v. Cleveland State University has been central to the legal debate over the constitutionality of room scans. Aaron Ogletree, a CSU student, sued the school after being asked to perform a room scan before a remote test. The US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ruled in favor of Ogletree, finding that the scans violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. CSU has appealed the decision, arguing that room scans are necessary to ensure academic integrity.
The Implications for Privacy Rights
The eventual decision in Ogletree v. Cleveland State University will have implications for other students and universities regarding privacy rights during online exams. The use of proctoring software, including room scans, has given rise to concerns about data privacy and security. Although private colleges and universities are not subject to the same constitutional restrictions as public universities, they are still subject to other state and federal laws. As a result, the legal and practical implications of room scans extend beyond public universities.
Impact on Future Litigation
The decision in Ogletree v. Cleveland State University is likely to be influential in future lawsuits about privacy rights during online exams. Regardless of the outcome, the ruling will be “cited in future lawsuits,” according to Anna Bullock, an associate at Kohrman Jackson Krantz LLP practicing in education and technology law. Bullock notes that the argument outlined in support of Ogletree’s position is likely to be recreated in cases involving different types of monitoring.
Tips for Protecting Privacy Rights During Online Exams
While the legal battle over room scans continues, there are steps that students can take to protect their privacy rights during virtual exams. Here are some tips:
Understand Your Rights
It’s important to understand your privacy rights and what constitutes an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. Familiarize yourself with your school’s privacy policies and guidelines.
Advocate for Yourself
If you have concerns about privacy violations during virtual exams, speak up and advocate for yourself. This could include communicating with your professors or school administrators, or seeking legal advice.
Use Alternative Exam Formats
If you’re uncomfortable with online proctoring software or room scans, consider alternative exam formats. For example, some professors may be willing to administer exams in person or provide alternative assignments.
Protect Your Personal Information
When performing a room scan or using proctoring software, be mindful of the personal information that may be visible to proctors or other students. Remove any sensitive documents or materials from your workspace before the exam.
The legal battle over room scans during virtual exams highlights the need for greater awareness of privacy rights and Fourth Amendment protections. While the outcome of Ogletree v. Cleveland State University remains uncertain, students can take proactive steps to protect their privacy rights and advocate for themselves. By understanding their rights and expressing their concerns, students can make a meaningful impact on the future of virtual exams.
1. Can I refuse to perform a room scan during a virtual exam?
It’s important to familiarize yourself with your school’s policies on virtual exams and privacy rights. While you may have the right to refuse a room scan, this could have consequences for your academic standing.
2. What should I do if I suspect my privacy rights have been violated during a virtual exam?
If you have concerns about privacy violations during a virtual exam, speak up and advocate for yourself. This could include communicating with your professors or school administrators, or seeking legal advice.
3. Can I request alternative exam formats if I am uncomfortable with proctoring software or room scans?
Yes, you can communicate with your professors and request alternative exam formats if you are uncomfortable with proctoring software or room scans. However, it’s important to be mindful of any academic consequences that may result from this decision.
4. What types of personal information may be visible to proctors during a room scan?
During a room scan, personal information such as your Social Security number, medical prescription information, or other confidential documents may be visible to proctors or other students.
5. How can I stay informed about privacy rights and Fourth Amendment protections during virtual exams?
Stay informed about your school’s policies and guidelines regarding virtual exams and privacy rights. You can also consult with legal experts or advocacy groups for additional guidance and support.