Cleveland State University online proctor room scans

Occurred: December 2022

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An Ohio judge has ruled (pdf) that the scanning of students' rooms before and during remote exams is an invasion of privacy and a violation of the US Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful searches in American homes.

Cleveland State University student Aaron Ogletree had agreed to a room scan before a chemistry exam. With other people in his home, he took the test in his bedroom, where he had sensitive tax documents spread out on a surface. These documents were visible in the room scan recording and were shared with other students.

The university had defended its room scans by saying that it had become common during the coronavirus pandemic and more acceptable to society, that Ogletree was not coerced into scanning his room, and that he could have removed any sensitive documents or have chosen to take the test in a different room.

The ruling was applauded by digital rights and privacy groups. Privacy non-profit Fight for the Future said the ruling was a 'major victory' and called on higher learning institutions 'to ban not only room scans, but invasive and discriminatory eproctoring software once and for all.'

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint (pdf) against Honorlock and four similar proctoring services in December 2020, calling their practices 'inherently invasive.'

On its website, Honorlock insists the Cleveland State room scan was conducted via Zoom.

Operator: Cleveland State University (CSU)
Developer: Honorlock; Zoom
Country: USA
Sector: Education
Purpose: Detect and prevent cheating
Technology: Video; Voice detection; Computer vision
Issue: Privacy
Transparency: Privacy