The remote-proctored exam that colleges began using widely during the pandemic saw a first big legal test of its own — one that concluded in a ruling applauded by digital privacy advocates.
A federal judge this week sided with a student at Cleveland State University in Ohio, who alleged that a room scan taken before his online test as a proctoring measure was unconstitutional.
Aaron Ogletree, a chemistry student, sat for a test during his spring semester last year. Before starting the exam, he was asked to show the virtual proctor his bedroom. He complied, and the recording data was stored by one of the school’s third-party proctoring tools, Honorlock, according to the ruling documents.
Ogletree then sued his university, alleging that the room scan violated his Fourth Amendment rights protecting U.S. citizens against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” In its defense, Cleveland State argued that room scans are not “searches,” because they are limited in scope, conducted to ensure academic fairness and exam integrity, and not coerced.
U.S. district court Judge J. Philip Calabrese on Monday decided in Ogletree’s favor: Room scans are unconstitutional.