Twentyflow online proctoring

Online proctoring apps raise privacy concerns among students

Amidst COVID-19 Universities are conducting exams using online Proctoring software, which raises serious privacy and security concerns among Students.

With a global pandemic on the rise (Coronavirus, if you are living under a rock), because of lockdown, many universities around the world are coming up with alternative ways to continue their student’s education.

Everything seems to be going well, from online zoom classes to submitting exams through online forms. Although a lot of students complained about the sub-par quality of their lectures and internet connectivity issues were inconvenient for their studies, and we can’t ignore the fact that there’s a global pandemic going on, a lot of students have been affected. Studying is probably not their No.1 priority right now. 🤷‍♂️

Suspicion of exam malpractice is pushing schools and colleges in the direction of online proctoring software, which monitors students in their homes during a test using webcam and microphones in their PCs, essentially giving up control of their PC. (however creepy that sounds)

How does it work

Students are required to install this software on their home computer, as university/school computers cannot be accessed (obviously🙄). After installing the proctoring software, it gains admin access to your personal computer monitoring every program that is running and uses your webcam to track your movement to determine if any malpractice is taking place. Seems fair, right? 

But keep in mind all your data (live footage from your webcam, files on your computer, microphone recording), basically, your digital life goes through these proctoring companies, and students have no way to know for sure if the data is kept private and not misused.

It’s Not That Bad, Right?

A lot of these companies are relatively new, and these apps have been around for just a year. So, it’s hard for students to trust them when some even require antivirus to be turned off.

User manual (screenshot) of proctoring software.
Screenshot of user manual of a Proctoring software

This is happening in schools and colleges all around the world, see here , here, and here. If companies like Facebook are heavily scrutinized for privacy concerns regarding ad placement and user data (like cookies and trackers), then proctoring companies should be under an electronic microscope (sorry, the physicist in me is rising 👨‍🔬🔬).

They are privy to very sensitive and private data. Admin access gives a program every bit of information in that PC. Student’s personal data like photos, videos, or other files and work-related like research data or internship data. In the end, students are not going to exam centers that use company computers to proctor; they have to trust strangers on the internet with their files on their personal PCs.

Universities can force their students to take exams amidst a global pandemic, but the question becomes, “At What Cost?“.

Note: I will update this article regularly, if you have anything more to add please leave a comment or reach out to me. Feel free to share it with your friends ^_^

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