Students' Fourth Amendment Right Violated by Proctoring Solution
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Students' Fourth Amendment Right Violated by Proctoring Solution

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Students' Fourth Amendment Right Violated by Proctoring Solution

A student with the assistance of the ACLU brought suit against Cleveland State University for the unconstitutional search of the student's room.

A federal judge agreed with the student and ruled on Aug 22 that room scans are unconstitutional under the fourth amendment of the United States.

The judgment referenced multiple proctoring services, as well as the Learning Management System (LMS).

Some decision highlights include;

“room scans have minimal value for preserving test integrity because there are numerous ways students could cheat that they would not catch (Id., PageID #492.)”

It should be noted that Integrity Advocate, an online proctoring and identity verification service, has NEVER utilized room scans for the stated reason they are “theatre”, and simply violate student privacy without the slightest benefit to academic integrity. Integrity Advocate is proud to see that our stance on room scans, GDPR compliance, AI racial bias, and biometrics have all been supported by the courts and regulatory bodies.

“ Defendant points to evidence showing that room scans are “Standard industry wide practice” and that students frequently acquiesce in their use. (ECF No. 34, PageID #512-14.)”

The University (Defendant) was correct that almost all proctoring service providers require a room scan. These room scans constitute no more than “theatre” when it comes to maintaining academic integrity. The act itself is intended to convey the impression to clients that the space the student is in is free from other individuals or aids, yet little stops another person from walking in with multiple aids right after the room scan is complete.

A related recent student complaint of sexually inappropriate requirements could additionally be the next court action. One female student conveyed the experience as follows: “ I was asked to scan my desk area and room, then also to pivot the camera from my face down to my lap. Then the proctor insisted that I stand up to face the camera, take off my cardigan sweater and turn around slowly. It was so creepy, I wish I would have said something at the moment, but I didn’t”.  This is yet another "standard practice" in which Integrity Advocate has NEVER participated that can easily be seen as the basis for new and further legal action.

In all these cases, the proctoring service provider is simply supposed to monitor the behaviour of the students throughout their assessments, just as an instructor would if they were doing the assessment in person. They should be looking for unusual conduct, eye movement, potential communication, etc. Can you imagine the public reaction if students showing up for an exam in person were asked to remove clothing and turn around for the instructor?

“it is difficult to see how enrolment in an higher education institution would limit the core protections of the home under the fourth amendment”

The judge reiterates what has been said in many other cases, specifically that a student need not relinquish their reasonable expectations of privacy in order to pursue an education, and that organizations cannot force student compliance just because they have control and/or power over a student’s educational pursuits.

If the above requests made of students was not bad enough, the proctoring service also recorded the room scans AND facilitated the sharing of recordings with other students. This method of this sharing can then result in the LMS becoming a party to the violation.

“other students taking the remote test can see the room scans of other students. (ECF No. 24-1, PageID #212.)”

At Integrity Advocate we deal with numerous learning management system (LMS) providers, educational institutions, and certifying organizations on a regular basis, and are proud to state that there are numerous organizations that are taking up the challenge to find an appropriate balance of academic integrity, accessibility, privacy, and security.

This balance can only be achieved by looking at the process of online assessments as a collaboration between assessment design, LMS functionality, and proctoring services. Courts agree; This balance cannot be achieved through the use of a catchall surveillance model that does not respect the inherent privacy rights and security concerns of students.