State Chancellor’s Office Opinion Finds Online Class Cameras-On Requirement May Violate Student Privacy Rights

CATEGORY: Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
DATE: Nov 19, 2020

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office issued Legal Opinion 2020-12 on October 19, 2020, regarding whether it was permissible for community college faculty to require students to keep their cameras on during live synchronous online instruction, which may enhance the interactive nature of an online class, provide the instructor with visual feedback, and facilitate attendance monitoring.

The Chancellor’s Office found the practice was not expressly prohibited, but it could potentially violate student privacy rights under the California Constitution and other federal and state privacy and civil rights laws.

The Opinion recommends Districts adopt policies limiting or prohibiting faculty from establishing cameras-on requirements. However, if student participation is essential to the online class, Districts should consider the extent to which cameras are necessary during the class, consider alternatives such as audio participation, encourage the use of electronic backgrounds, or encourage the chat feature for attendance and discussion.

Read the Opinion here.