Photo by Christopher Schirner/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode">Flickr </a>
Photo by Christopher Schirner/Flickr

Aug. 25 (UPI) — A federal judge agreed with an Ohio college student, saying scanning students’ rooms before online tests is unconstitutional.

The case was brought by Aaron Ogletree, a chemistry student at Cleveland State University. Before he started an exam last year, he was asked to show the virtual proctor his bedroom. According to the court documents, the recording data was stored by one of the school’s third-party proctoring tools.

Ogletree sued the university, alleging that the room scan violates the Fourth Amendment right against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

U.S. district judge J. Philip Calabrese sided with Ogletree on Monday.

“Mr. Ogletree’s privacy interest in his home outweighs Cleveland State’s interests in scanning his room,” Judge Calabrese wrote in his opinion.

As COVID-19 has increasingly forced students to take remote exams, privacy advocates lauded the decision as a landmark ruling that will protect students’ privacy rights.

Attorney Matthew Besser, who represented Ogletree, said that the case appeared to be the first in the nation to hold that the Fourth Amendment protects students from these kinds of video searches.

According to NPR, Cleveland State University had argued the scan lasted no more than a minute and only revealed items in plain view. It also argued that Ogletree was in control because he chose the location to take the exam.

However, Judge Calabrese said that this method was still intrusive.

“Rooms scans go where people otherwise would not, at least not without a warrant or an invitation,” he said.

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