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Flirting with the bounds of privacy

Did a professor go too far when seeking out who cheated on his final exam?

During spring 2008, Physics Prof. Blaine Norum received an e-mail from a student about an in-class cheating incident during the final exam period for his Physics 142E class. The student overheard a group of his peers discussing an incident in which someone used a smart phone to access the web solutions to a midterm posted on Collab during the final exam, which included questions identical to ones on the midterm.

In an e-mail exchange with the informant, Norum inquired whether he knew the suspect. The student said he did not.

This left Norum with little proof that the incident even occurred. Hence, he turned to the University's Information Technology and Communication department for an Internet paper trail of the events.

Eventually, the University Counsel


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