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    Boston Globe: Harvard secretly photographed students to study attendance

    The Boston Globe reports on a privacy controversy at Harvard University:

    Harvard University has revealed that it secretly photographed some 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study of classroom attendance, an admission that prompted criticism from faculty and students who said the research was an invasion of privacy.

    The clandestine experiment, disclosed publicly for the first time at a faculty meeting Tuesday night, came to light about a year-and-a-half after revelations that administrators had secretly searched thousands of Harvard e-mail accounts. That led the university to implement new privacy policies on electronic communication this spring, but another round of controversy followed the latest disclosure. […]

    Harvard president Drew Faust said at the faculty meeting that she takes the matter “very seriously” and will have the case reviewed by a panel that oversees the newly established electronic communications policies, according to the Harvard Crimson, which first reported on the controversy surrounding the research. […]

    The study was not designed to track or identify individual students, [Peter K. Bol, Harvard’s vice provost for advances in learning, said], nor was it meant to evaluate teachers. […]

    In his remarks provided by the university, Bol acknowledged that Tuesday’s revelation has raised concerns and said that in the future study proposals that involve undergraduates would automatically come before Harvard’s assistant dean for undergraduate education, in addition to the university’s research review board.

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