Online Exam Proctoring: The Dark Side of Student Privacy and Health

Custom Made Featured Photo of Students Opening Proctoring Exams like LockDown Browser | Creation of Azariel Del Carmen

In a digital age, during a pandemic, virtual classes have exploded in demand. With virtual classes comes virtual assignments, quizzes, and exams, which has led to a concern for academic honesty. In order to make sure that academic honesty is enforced, universities have turned to online proctoring with proctoring software like Respondus’ LockDown Browser, in order to address it. The way that proctoring software operates, however, has made advocacy groups—professors, and students alike—concerned over the well-being of students and the collection of their personal data. Yet others are less concerned about how invasive proctoring software is becoming. California State University, Fullerton’s lecturer Randy Hoffman states, “there isn’t anything to worry about unless a student is trying to beat the system.”1 With students’ personal data or with their health, ProctorU Media Coordinator Franklin Hayes compares the concerns over student privacy to be like “having a cable guy at your house.”2 However, despite these dismissals and the software’s beneficial services, proctoring software brings major risks to student data privacy with the use of artificial intelligence and the data storage it requires, as well as risks to the well-being of students when they take exams.

First, let’s understand what proctoring is. Proctoring is how professors monitor students who take an exam in-class. Professors monitor the testing environment to make sure the exams are taken appropriately by each student. Online Proctoring (or e-proctoring) systems behave like regular proctoring; however, they differ between one another. Honorlock or Proctorio, for example, handle proctoring by having students install an add-on to their browser that controls what they can do in it, while LockDown Browser instead uses a custom browser that takes over the students’ computer screen. Each proctoring system “prohibits students from opening new tabs during [exams]” and has the ability to “[use] the student’s webcam to record a video while they complete the assessment and flag suspicious activity, such as background noise or the student’s eyes shifting away from the computer screen.” Professors or exam proctors can then review these video recordings for possible infractions.3 It sounds like normal proctoring, but just online; however, there are a few issues on how proctoring software works that raises concerns over student data and health.

Proctoring software makes use of computer webcams and microphones to make recordings. By doing so, the software can catch a student looking at a sticky note on their monitor, or capture voices that might provide answers to test questions. Without such software, professors can’t be sure whether the exam has been tampered with or not by a student. While they monitor students, the software uses additional “features” to validate the recordings, such as artificial intelligence (or AI), to determine whether the person taking the exam is really that student, and it will flag any suspicious activity throughout the session automatically. Some advocacy groups have argued that having students turn on their webcams and microphones to a stranger, or even to an algorithm “violate[s] their civil rights.”4 The Electronic Frontier Foundation (or EFF), a non-profit organization that focuses on data privacy, and Mutahar Anas, a YouTuber that does virus investigations and software analyses, both call proctoring systems “the equivalent to spyware.”5 California Community College Board of Governors member Colm Fitzgerald, who works at Delta College in Stockton, CA, told the university’s wire that these systems can be “extremely restrictive.” He related a story about a student who, while taking an e-proctored test, had his brother simply walk in the room, and when he turned around to tell him to leave, he was faulted for violating the testing rules, and failed his exam.6 This opens the door for a student to get their exam revoked by the AI due to someone walking into the room, forgetting that a exam is in session, and the AI thinking the student is cheating due to it.

The Respondus Monitor Terms of Usage as of January 21th, 2021 | Courtesy of Azariel Del Carmen on February 16th, 2021

Each proctoring software platform comes with a privacy policy that is shown to all students before their exams start. Most students have no choice but to just click “I agree” to the policy after glancing at the policy page; however, students who decide to read the legal terms of the policy in detail find out exactly how their data is being used. For Respondus’ LockDown Browser’s extension Respondus Monitor, Respondus states that “the recordings are controlled by your institution and will be processed by an agent of your institution, namely, Respondus, through its Respondus Monitor Services.”7 This suggests that a student’s webcam and microphone recordings are being handled by their universities; however, reading further, one comes to a section that states that “random samples of video and/or audio recordings may be collected via Respondus Monitor and [be] used by Respondus to improve the Respondus Monitor capabilities for institutions and students.”8 Because of this, Respondus has the authority to take a student’s recording and use it to improve Respondus Monitor despite the prior statement, which causes confusion as to what exactly they are doing with any and all students’ recordings.

These statements refer to the use of student video and audio recordings by Respondus for the AI algorithm behind Respondus Monitor. In order to catch and flag students for suspicious behavior, the AI algorithms needs to be “trained on thousands of video examples to recognize movements of eyes and head[s] that appear to correlate with [such acts].”9 This is done to catch cheaters and suspicious behavior efficiently, but students are unaware that their video recordings can be sent to the Respondus Monitor AI system if they don’t read the fine print of the Respondus Monitor “Terms of Use.” The students can’t refuse to send their recordings to Respondus unless they refuse to take the exam with it. However, such refusal will cause them to fail their classes or exams with no other alternative. Mutahar Anas in his video covering Respondus’ LockDown Browser states to his viewers, “This is wrong. This is immoral in my eyes,” and suggests to students to use another computer, dual-boot Windows, or make their universities get them a separate computer to avoid the invasive nature that proctoring software introduces to students’ computers for exam security.10

A point can be made that proctoring companies need this data from their software’s use in order for their AI systems to recognize new behaviors, but this can be resolved by having the student either opt-in or opt-out of data collection with no consequences prior to the exam starting. Other AI programs will ask users if they are OK with the software collecting their data, and if the users says no, they can still continue to use the software with no issues. Proctoring software, on the other hand, makes it mandatory to opt-in, and not agreeing to the terms can lock a student out of their exam. While this data collection makes sense, proctoring companies could add an option that would allow students to send their recordings to the companies, and let them take their exams. That option might limit how many samples the proctoring companies might get for their AI needs, but it should be sufficient to keep improving the algorithm, and might make them data privacy-compliant in the European Union and in the US. EU lawmakers have demanded an investigation to see “whether online proctoring software violates student privacy rights, arguing that it is unfair for universities to force students to use exam monitoring tools that capture their personal biometric data.”11 US senators Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, and Chris Van Hollen wrote to ExamSoft, asking the company “how [student] data is being used before, during, and after tests, by [the company], the virtual proctors, and testing administrators” and how it complies with student privacy laws like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (or FERPA).12 Even universities like the University of California at Santa Barbara “have advised against the use of test proctoring services in remote learning” due to student protests with proctoring systems and the “aggressive tactics employed by proctoring companies in response to those [protests].”13

Artificial Intelligence Vector Graphic | Courtesy of GDJ on Pixabay

There has been concerns that the AI algorithm behind proctoring software are biased and discriminatory to some students. Simon Coghlan, Tim Miller, and Heannie Paterson from the Melbourne Law School, in their paper state that “the field of AI Ethics (and, more broadly, digital ethics) is young and still under development” and “[has] occasionally been criticized for their lack of practical specificity and theoretical philosophical rigor.”14 Despite these issues, proctoring companies advertise AI as a feature that improves academic integrity to universities on their sites and advertising campaigns. Their AI algorithms however, has raised the issue that the technology is not ready for today’s needs and are biased against minority groups in the same way as other AI attempts in the past, such as Amazon’s AI recruiting tool, which excluded applicants who used the words “women” and the names of all-women’s colleges in their resumes to work for the company.15

Senators Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, and Chris Van Hollen in their letter to ExamSoft tell the company that “students of color, and students wearing religious dress, like headscarves, have reported issues with the software’s inability to recognize their facial features, temporarily barring them from accessing the software.”16 While it may seem like a technical limitation, the proctoring companies advertise this as “elegant, functional, [and] powerful” and “eliminates human error [and] bias” with no evidence, despite past incidents.17 Ian Linketter, a learning technology specialist, posted on Twitter his analysis of Proctorio’s system. In the post, he explains that Proctorio’s system was invasive of students’ privacy and claims that “it discriminates against students who are marginalized, neurodiverse, or who otherwise do not fit the developers’ definition of normal.”18 Nir Kshetri, a management professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro explains to The Conversation that “simpler algorithms such as [AI] applications have been mainly trained to identify white males and, consequently, misidentify ethnic minorities,” and believes that AI isn’t appropirate for remote proctoring today, which has caused many students and advocates to wonder whether what the proctoring software are claiming with their AI system really is fact.19

Proctoring companies will state that each AI algorithm they have is trained differently from others, and are each adapting to new behaviors and different races and ethnicities; however, Simon Coghlan, Tim Miller, and Jeannie Paterson’s paper shows that the bias and discrimination exists in their AI algorithm. In their paper, they state that AI “has been criticized as inaccurate, and has [resulted] in legal action, despite the fact that [it] may have been trained on thousands or millions of images.”20 Even then, the proctoring companies themselves don’t disclose the AI assessments they make to backup their claims of bias, which raises a concern as to how the proctoring companies advertise this feature without actual data and past incidents that shown how it treats students of different religions, races, or ethnicities. False flagging by the AI can “harm [student]s’ opportunities often in arbitrary and discriminatory ways,” and students have no access to see any flags made during the exam or why they were made.21 Students would be unable to figure out what they are being flagged for and why beforehand, which would make it difficult to prove their case to their university or to their professor if the professor thinks that they cheated on an exam in class.

Mental Health Vector Graphic | Courtesy of GDJ on Pixabay

Proctoring software also raises concerns over a student’s well-being during the exam. While many of us may be able to live life as everyone else, others unfortunately have conditions that are not always ideal for some students. No one knows about a student’s condition before the exam starts, whether it is the professor, a random proctor, or AI algorithm. Due to this, many students with conditions like ADHD, trichotillomania, and chronic tic disorder for instance, have a hard time trying to take exams with these systems, compared to taking it in person. Ketelyn Vercher, a sophomore at Georgia State University in Atlanta who has ADHD, states to The Signal that “using LockDown Browser while having unmedicated ADHD has made it hard for [her] to take tests.”22 Proctoring software can also harm students psychologically. Nir Kshetri explains to The Conversation that “one student vomited [during her exam] due to the stress” and had to do it “at her desk because no bathroom breaks were permitted” during her exam.23 Proctoring software not only harms students mentally, but also harms those that have health conditions from taking their exams. An AI algorithm or proctor won’t be able to recognize all the effects someone with mental stress or with ADHD may have and can determine the behavior as inappropriate, hurting the student even further for cheating accusations. Mental health and health conditions are real, and the way that proctoring software treats each student can causes more harm than it does good for a letter grade on an exam.

Universities and proctoring companies will state that universities can accommodate students with health concerns; however, the solution they make shows that proctoring software is not necessary to be used in class. At St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, students with health conditions are given a few choices depending on where they are located. In-town students can be proctored in a testing center while out-of-town students can be proctored by another university in-person, and out-of-country students can be proctored via Zoom. The accommodation, however, gets rid of proctoring software as a whole, which raises the point of using proctoring software in the first place, if these options get rid of the proctoring system as a whole for these students, but can’t be offered to other students. The accessibility services know these systems can treat students with health conditions poorly and the course of actions that they take to make sure they are taking the exam fairly should be considered by professors and universities to handle exams for others students that doesn’t harm the student’s well-being throughout the testing period.

Proctoring software raises concerns over how it stores students’ information. As mentioned previously, these proctoring companies like Respondus can store student data to be used in AI algorithm testing, but they also store other kinds of personal information, like student IDs or addresses. Nicholas Nguyen, a senior at San Jose State University used ProctorU to take his exam and told his university wire that “he was asked to answer four personal questions about himself,” one being the name of a family member to prove he was actually himself. It’s unusual that a ProctorU proctor would ask that kind of question of a student, especially for Nguyen, who had never told anyone about this particular information. To clarify the confusion, Franklin Hayes explains that ProctorU got this information from “public records and databases by Acxiom, a data-brokering company,” and that this method is used as a security measure by some credit card companies.24 While the information is public, it raises questions as to what these proctoring companies are gathering on students and why they need brokering companies to prove that the student is actually that student, compared to a student image and ID.

ProctorU Screenshot From Twitter Confirming The Data Breach | Courtesy of Azariel Del Carmen on February 16th, 2021

The student information held by online proctors, however, has to be stored somewhere. Normally, this data is stored on servers hosted by the company, and is secured to prevent unauthorized access to the system; however, these system can fail, which has caused personal information to be publicly revealed. Students who have used ProctorU have gotten their data leaked recently on a hacker forum. BleepingComputer’s creator Lawrence Abrams states that the data leaked contained “email addresses, full names, addresses, phone numbers, hashed passwords, the affiliated organization, and [more]” from the University of Texas, Harvard, Yale, and even universities in other countries like Australia.25 ProctorU remained silent about this breach until users on Twitter and journalists like Abrams started to report it, with the company confirming the breach on Twitter in early August 2020, after someone tweeted an article by the University of Sydney, Australia talking about the breach.

ProctorU stated in a update that “data collected by ProctorU prior to March 2015 appeared to have been acquired and posted by an unauthorized user.”26 However, Abrams’s in his article analyzed the leaked database and found that it contained student account information up to 2017.27 Not only has ProctorU remained silent about this up till August 2020, but they didn’t even check that the data had student information up to 2017. Even if the data is three to eight years old, a data breach of this kind is still something serious to take a look at, especially a breach that leaks students personal information. Data breaches do happen all the time, from Yahoo in 2014 to Equifax in 2017; but the existence of this kind of information shows how much data these companies retain from students, years after they stopped using their services. And those data breaches may expose many of these students to identity fraud due to the lack of security on the system’s servers.

Other proctoring companies will state that they don’t gather and store the same type of information like ProctorU does. This is untrue, however, since Jason Kelley and Lindsay Oliver from the EFF tells us that “[proctoring companies] retain much of what they gather[,] whether that’s documentation or video of bedroom scans,” and that they have “no time limits on [data] retention” and may share it to third-parties.28 Respondus, for example, claims that “the recordings are controlled by [the student’s] institution,” but admits that “random samples of video and/or audio recordings…may be shared with researchers (research institutions and/or biometric experts) under contract with Respondus,” which the EPIC calls “a transfer of data which would necessarily include identifiable images of students’ faces,” which misleads students and institutions as to what it shares to third-parties.29 Students don’t have control over how their data is handled, despite the fact that the data shows the students’ face in it or asks the proctoring companies to delete it, because according to them they aren’t considered the data’s ‘owner.’ Rather their institution does.30

Proctoring companies have leaked student data before. A student on the social platform Reddit complained about their experience with Proctorio’s support team when the software kept crashing on their midterms. Proctorio’s CEO Mike Olsen, who read the student’s post, decided to post the student’s support logs in public, telling the student, “If you’re gonna lie bro . . . don’t do it when the company clearly has an entire transcript of your conversation.” It was “quickly panned as an inappropriate use of corporate data and an invasion of privacy” by other users, and the CEO later apologized and removed the post.31 Using student logs like Proctorio’s CEO did on Reddit shows not only how the company stores their information, but how it uses that information against them. A company is supposed to keep this data private, not post it publicly when it’s criticized and when they can use this information against the student like this, it’s unprofessional, and a violation of student’s data rights and laws like FERPA.

The Zoom Video Conferencing Logo | Courtesy of Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

With proctoring software causing more issues and concerns to students, professors, and activists than what it intends to fix, some universities are already looking at alternatives to handle their exams in different ways, with students leading the way with possible ideas. Alyssa Origer, a student at Delta College, suggests to professors that “if [they] want to make sure we aren’t cheating, they could just hold a Zoom meeting and monitor us themselves.” What this would do is allow professors to watch students take their exams just as if they were in-class and eliminate the issue of a random proctor or “a faulty [AI] algorithm deciding whether we are cheating or not.”32 Another solution is to make the tests and quizzes be short answer responses rather than multiple-choice. Making these kinds of exams allows professors to easily tell whether a student plagiarized their response, and makes the students put in actual effort for the exam topics to pass the exam. It won’t stop the use of Google and re-wording other people’s responses, but it can be easily shown whether or not a response was made with the use of the internet, someone else, or actual readings. One last option to consider is to assign a project to the class rather than a exam. Similar to short-answer questions, this solution will allow professors to check the quality of the work for any plagiarism with tools like Turnitin and make students put effort into the topic and the requirements the project needs. The professor can then review their work and plagiarism score and email students questions about their project to see whether the student had a understanding of the topic or violated academic honesty by using someone else’s work or the internet.

While the use of proctoring software is valid in today’s society and academic need, it is simply too much of a risk to students’ data and well-being than it is to maintain academic honesty in the classroom. “No student should be forced to make the choice to either hand over their [data] and be surveilled continuously or to fail their class.”33 Proctoring companies advertise that they prevent cheating, but a report by Michael N. Karim, Samuel E. Kaminsky, and Tara S. Behrend, at George Washington University in Washington, DC concluded that while it prevents cheating, “neither of the main effects were significant, suggesting there was no overall mean difference between the proctored and unproctored [exams].”34 Universities and schools that use proctoring software need to reconsider the options available to them and switch away from using such systems for exams and quizzes with something that can benefit, and be accessible to students more openly than a low cost fix for all exams that causes students to give up their data and risk their mental and general health.35 Until then, our current classes will still have to run these invasive proctoring systems that bring more negatives than positives to students over a simple letter grade in class for their future degree.

  1. Jared Eprem, “Exam Monitoring Platform Creates Privacy Concerns,” Daily Titan, September 27, 2020, https://dailytitan.com/news/campus/exam-monitoring-platform-creates-privacy-concerns/article_0f76ff90-0142-11eb-acb5-db7ebc361b7c.html.
  2. Nicholas Ibarra Yasmine Mahmoud, “Online Proctoring Raises Privacy Concerns,” Spartan Daily: San Jose State University, March 31, 2014.
  3. Hannah Workman, “Online Test Proctoring Services Cause Concerns about Equity, Privacy,” Collegian: Delta College, October 30, 2020, http://deltacollegian.net/2020/10/30/online-test-proctoring-services-cause-concerns-about-equity-privacy.
  4. Nir Kshetri, “Remote Education Is Rife with Threats to Student Privacy,” The Conversation, November 6, 2020, http://theconversation.com/remote-education-is-rife-with-threats-to-student-privacy-148955.
  5. Mutahar Anas, Why I Don’t Trust Online School Software…, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgZlQbDY6QA.
  6. Hannah Workman, “Online Test Proctoring Services Cause Concerns about Equity, Privacy,” Collegian: Delta College, October 30, 2020, http://deltacollegian.net/2020/10/30/online-test-proctoring-services-cause-concerns-about-equity-privacy.
  7. Respondus, “Terms of Use – Respondus Monitor (Student),” Respondus, January 21, 2021, https://web.respondus.com/tou-monitor-student/.
  8. Respondus, “Terms of Use – Respondus Monitor (Student),” Respondus, January 21, 2021, https://web.respondus.com/tou-monitor-student/.
  9. Simon Coghlan, Tim Miller, and Jeannie Paterson, “Good Proctor or ‘Big Brother’? AI Ethics and Online Exam Supervision Technologies,” ArXiv:2011.07647 Cs, November 15, 2020, http://arxiv.org/abs/2011.07647, 4.
  10. Mutahar Anas, Why I Don’t Trust Online School Software…, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgZlQbDY6QA.
  11. “EU Lawmakers Call for Online Exam Proctoring Privacy Probe,” Times Higher Education (THE), May 5, 2020, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/eu-lawmakers-call-online-exam-proctoring-privacy-probe.
  12. Richard Blumenthal et al., “Letter to Ed Testing Software Companies ExamSoft,” Senate Letter, December 3, 2020, https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2020.12.3%20Letter%20to%20Ed%20Testing%20Software%20Companies%20ExamSoft.pdf.
  13. “In the Matter of Online Test Proctoring Companies Respondus, Inc.; ProctorU, Inc.; Proctorio, Inc.; Examity, Inc., and Honorlock, Inc.” (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), December 9, 2020), https://epic.org/privacy/dccppa/online-test-proctoring/EPIC-complaint-in-re-online-test-proctoring-companies-12-09-20.pdf, 5.
  14. Simon Coghlan, Tim Miller, and Jeannie Paterson, “Good Proctor or ‘Big Brother’? AI Ethics and Online Exam Supervision Technologies,” ArXiv:2011.07647 Cs, November 15, 2020, http://arxiv.org/abs/2011.07647, 3.
  15. “In the Matter of Online Test Proctoring Companies Respondus, Inc.; ProctorU, Inc.; Proctorio, Inc.; Examity, Inc., and Honorlock, Inc.” (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), December 9, 2020), https://epic.org/privacy/dccppa/online-test-proctoring/EPIC-complaint-in-re-online-test-proctoring-companies-12-09-20.pdf, 11.
  16. Richard Blumenthal et al., “Letter to Ed Testing Software Companies ExamSoft,” Senate Letter, December 3, 2020, https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2020.12.3%20Letter%20to%20Ed%20Testing%20Software%20Companies%20ExamSoft.pdf.
  17. “In the Matter of Online Test Proctoring Companies Respondus, Inc.; ProctorU, Inc.; Proctorio, Inc.; Examity, Inc., and Honorlock, Inc.” (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), December 9, 2020), https://epic.org/privacy/dccppa/online-test-proctoring/EPIC-complaint-in-re-online-test-proctoring-companies-12-09-20.pdf, 12-14.
  18. “In the Matter of Online Test Proctoring Companies Respondus, Inc.; ProctorU, Inc.; Proctorio, Inc.; Examity, Inc., and Honorlock, Inc.” (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), December 9, 2020), https://epic.org/privacy/dccppa/online-test-proctoring/EPIC-complaint-in-re-online-test-proctoring-companies-12-09-20.pdf, 14.
  19. Nir Kshetri, “Remote Education Is Rife with Threats to Student Privacy,” The Conversation, November 6, 2020, http://theconversation.com/remote-education-is-rife-with-threats-to-student-privacy-148955.
  20. Simon Coghlan, Tim Miller, and Jeannie Paterson, “Good Proctor or ‘Big Brother’? AI Ethics and Online Exam Supervision Technologies,” ArXiv:2011.07647 Cs, November 15, 2020, http://arxiv.org/abs/2011.07647, 6.
  21. “In the Matter of Online Test Proctoring Companies Respondus, Inc.; ProctorU, Inc.; Proctorio, Inc.; Examity, Inc., and Honorlock, Inc.” (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), December 9, 2020), https://epic.org/privacy/dccppa/online-test-proctoring/EPIC-complaint-in-re-online-test-proctoring-companies-12-09-20.pdf, 11.
  22. Callie McNorton, “LockDown Browser Is an Invading Privacy,” The Signal (blog), October 27, 2020, https://georgiastatesignal.com/lockdown-browser-is-an-invading-privacy/.
  23. Nir Kshetri, “Remote Education Is Rife with Threats to Student Privacy,” The Conversation, November 6, 2020, http://theconversation.com/remote-education-is-rife-with-threats-to-student-privacy-148955.
  24. Nicholas Ibarra Yasmine Mahmoud, “Online Proctoring Raises Privacy Concerns,” Spartan Daily: San Jose State University, March 31, 2014.
  25. Lawrence Abrams, “ProctorU Confirms Data Breach after Database Leaked Online,” ProctorU Confirms Data Breach after Database Leaked Online, August 9, 2020, https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/proctoru-confirms-data-breach-after-database-leaked-online/.
  26. “Security Update for ProctorU Clients,” ProctorU, accessed February 16, 2021, https://www.proctoru.com/security-update.
  27. Lawrence Abrams, “ProctorU Confirms Data Breach after Database Leaked Online,” ProctorU Confirms Data Breach after Database Leaked Online, August 9, 2020, https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/proctoru-confirms-data-breach-after-database-leaked-online/.
  28. Jason Kelley and Lindsay Oliver, “Proctoring Apps Subject Students to Unnecessary Surveillance,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 20, 2020, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/08/proctoring-apps-subject-students-unnecessary-surveillance.
  29. Respondus, “Terms of Use – Respondus Monitor (Student),” Respondus, January 21, 2021, https://web.respondus.com/tou-monitor-student/; Respondus, “Terms of Use – Respondus Monitor (Institution),” Respondus, 2020, https://web.respondus.com/tou-monitor-admin/; “In the Matter of Online Test Proctoring Companies Respondus, Inc.; ProctorU, Inc.; Proctorio, Inc.; Examity, Inc., and Honorlock, Inc.” (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), December 9, 2020), https://epic.org/privacy/dccppa/online-test-proctoring/EPIC-complaint-in-re-online-test-proctoring-companies-12-09-20.pdf, 7.
  30. Jason Kelley and Lindsay Oliver, “Proctoring Apps Subject Students to Unnecessary Surveillance,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 20, 2020, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/08/proctoring-apps-subject-students-unnecessary-surveillance.
  31. “In the Matter of Online Test Proctoring Companies Respondus, Inc.; ProctorU, Inc.; Proctorio, Inc.; Examity, Inc., and Honorlock, Inc.” (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), December 9, 2020), https://epic.org/privacy/dccppa/online-test-proctoring/EPIC-complaint-in-re-online-test-proctoring-companies-12-09-20.pdf, 9.
  32. Hannah Workman, “Online Test Proctoring Services Cause Concerns about Equity, Privacy,” Collegian: Delta College, October 30, 2020, http://deltacollegian.net/2020/10/30/online-test-proctoring-services-cause-concerns-about-equity-privacy.
  33. Jason Kelley and Lindsay Oliver, “Proctoring Apps Subject Students to Unnecessary Surveillance,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 20, 2020, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/08/proctoring-apps-subject-students-unnecessary-surveillance.
  34. Michael Karim, Samuel Kaminsky, and Tara Behrend, “Cheating, Reactions, and Performance in Remotely Proctored Testing: An Exploratory Experimental Study,” Journal of Business and Psychology 29, no. 4 (December 1, 2014): 555–72, 9.
  35. Callie McNorton, “LockDown Browser Is an Invading Privacy,” The Signal (blog), October 27, 2020, https://georgiastatesignal.com/lockdown-browser-is-an-invading-privacy/.

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65 Responses

  1. Congratulations on your award Azariel! I think it’s really interesting how you came up with this topic, because I never really questioned the use of online proctoring software, for me it was just something new to get used to. I did find it kind of weird how it would videotape us at first, (I’m sure all of us did), but I understood that it was to keep us from cheating. Although I am sure it was helpful for teachers because we weren’t in the classroom. You also thoroughly researched and cited many sources which are very good. I also didn’t know that some proctoring software violated laws, so that was surprising. I also like how you did not just state the problem, but you offered different solutions for it like “holding a zoom meeting”, “making the tests and quizzes be short answer responses rather than multiple-choice”, and “having a project rather than an exam”.

  2. I found this article to be truly informative as well as something to consider , being a potential online educator after graduation for learning institutions which might make written tests a potential form of achievement processing.
    There are other ways of course to test competency and learning other than written exams, and not all students perform well in tests which only utilize one learning modality.

  3. This article was very fascinating to me as the topic is extremely relevant to today. I wasn’t aware of many online softwares such as zoom and lockdown browser until COVID-19 sent us into an all online world. I never put much thought into the security aspect of such softwares, however this article put a lot of things into perspective. This article was very informative on the subject matter. I was glad the author dove into the negatives of software programs for education purposes.

  4. From my perspective, this is an outstanding article. Since we’ve been on lockdown due to the covid, school and work have been a lot different than anticipated, but when people think of their houses, they think of their own privacy and space. These apps can be beneficial to many teachers and managers, but when it comes to user privacy, they are not really ‘favorable.’ Yes, several Texas schools loan computers to students from their own districts, and those laptops are mostly used for school assignments as well as other stuff, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of these extensions have access to their homes due to the laptops’ microphones and cameras. Many students are now relying on those extensions to pass and/or graduate from their level, and it is something they can’t alter. Let’s not forget that knowing that your actions, you, and even your work space are being recorded by those apps can increase anxiety in those who already have it, make people anxious, and the fact that even a minor behavior may affect your grade is not acceptable. Working from home when on lockdown is stressful enough, now having to deal with privacy issues is even more. I hope that all of these people who think this is a smart idea think twice and consider all of the potential implications of being watched while taking an exam or working on a project in class; there are better ways to know if someone cheats on their job than denying their privacy at home.

  5. I found really interesting this article especially how detailed everything is and I can see this is a really researched article which means its reliable. I didn’t consider that privacy was a problem when it came to online education and now with covid apps like zoom have been one of the most useful things we use to communicate with others and receive classes.

  6. This article was extremely well written and one that I looked forward to reading. I always disliked the AI in Respondus or any proctoring software that we have to use. On the wrong move could mean receiving a failing grade on a test or might flag your entire test for suspicion. Overall, the software adds another layer of stress in an already stressful time. Not only do we have the stress of the test, the stress of the pandemic, and the stress of paying for school we also have to worry about software that invades our privacy and can wrongfully flag exam videos for family interrupting during a test or having to get up and use the restroom.

  7. I really like this article. I don’t like taking any exams using the Lock Down browser only because it is a hassle and sometimes the screen will shut off if you move out of the camera. I think we should just be able to take the test regularly because it builds trust with the teachers and the students. There are so many other ways to get testing done and lock down browser is my least favorite. This article is very informative, great work!

  8. This is such an important topic that is unfolding before our very eyes. I had never heard of things like Lockdown Browser until Covid-19 sent everyone to take tests at home. The eye-tracking technology made me nervous and made me afraid to even look away once, which took away from my focus on the test. I come from a good home, but I cannot imagine how hard it must be for those having to do school in a poor environment, having to have a camera document everything going on at home to be reviewed by an outside party. This article brought up even more concerns that I hadn’t even thought about!

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