Tucked away in a 1,200-page bill now in Congress is a small paragraph that could lead distance-education institutions to require spy cameras in their students' homes.The result?
It sounds Orwellian, but the paragraph — part of legislation renewing the Higher Education Act — is all but assured of becoming law by the fall. No one in Congress objects to it.
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.
[Colleges are authenticating] online test takers by reading their fingerprints, watching them via Web cameras, or recording their keystrokes.Or
[Requiring students to] travel to distant locations so a proctor can watch them take exams on paper.For many colleges, the fear is that solutions developed and managed by third-party vendors will collect students' images, fingerprints, and even images from inside their homes, ultimately jeopardizing our students' privacy.