Covid-19 and student privacy

James Freeman ~ Guest Writer

     I am a transfer student to the University of Lynchburg. I have been in college on and offline for two years at this point.

     My experiences at college have all been boring and normal up to this point. Once Covid-19 hit I assumed things would move to an online only format as it had before. 

     This included pre -recorded lectures and webcam office hours for questions and help. This was a very well-oiled system in my opinion and made life OK for those who had to learn online. 

     Synchronous classes however are a beast of a different color. There are live lectures where students have bad WIFI or other limiting factors. 

     Another issue that arises is that synchronous classes in its current state breaks United States privacy laws. Zoom and GoogleMeet allow students to screenshot other students thus illegally owning their picture. Many students, myself included, have been flashed by unknowing students not even in our lectures such as roommates.

     There are a lot of privacy concerns that switching to asynchronous classes would fix. Zoom and GoogleMeet have both been sued for stealing and sharing user data. 

     The point is our current distance learning setup is not working. It needs changed or students and professors alike will suffer breaches of privacy, embarrassment, and possible lawsuits. 

     If you Google Zoom class lawsuits there are many results and though most of the time it’s not the professor’s fault, they get fired over it. 

     There was even an instance of getting charged for indecency with a minor because of a camera malfunction.

     I know Covid-19 is making this hard on all of us and I get that but there must be a better solution than the one we have. My solution is stated above asynchronous classes with pre-recorded lectures and video office hours for help and questions.

~James Freeman

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