Federal Court deems university’s use of room scans within the home unconstitutional

I. Summary

A federal court recently ruled that a public university’s use of room-scanning technology during a remotely proctored exam violated a student’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The decision in Ogletree v. CSU is the clearest indication to date of how courts will treat Fourth Amendment challenges to public higher education institutions’ use of video room scans within students’ homes. Schools, test administrators, and professional licensure boards often use proctoring technologies in an effort to dissuade cheating by remote test takers. These technologies take a variety of forms and may involve live proctors observing test takers via webcam, eye-tracking technology, artificial intelligence, recording via webcam and microphone, plug-ins that disable a test taker’s computer from accessing third-party websites or stored materials, and room scans. At issue in this case was a room scan of a student’s bedroom workspace. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, more schools have incorporated remote proctoring software into testing procedures. The increased use of such technology in both K-12 and higher education settings has led to widespread discussion about the resulting privacy implications, including whether remote proctoring practices violate students’ privacy rights. In August, the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio offered some clarity–as well as new questions–when it granted summary judgment to college student Aaron Ogletree (“the student”), in his Fourth Amendment lawsuit against Cleveland State University (“CSU,” or “the university”). The Court determined that the room scan amounted to a Fourth Amendment search because: (1) CSU is

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