Law Mandates Violating Privacy

We have previously discussed how government often mandates online privacy violations through data retention mandates and tracking requirements. Now, Congress has tucked away a privacy violation mandate into a 1200 page education bill. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education,

The paragraph is actually about clamping down on cheating. It says that an institution that offers an online program must prove that an enrolled student is the same person who does the work…

But some college officials are wary of the technologies, noting that they are run by third-party vendors that may not safeguard students’ privacy. Among the information the vendors collect are students’ fingerprints, and possibly even images from inside their homes.

“This is taking a step into a student’s private life,” said Rhonda M. Epper, co-executive director of Colorado Community Colleges Online. “I don’t know if we want to extend our presence that far.”

The government should let institutions of higher education determine their own practices, balancing the goals of preventing cheating with privacy concerns.