Privacy-focused nonprofit Fight for the Future has launched a new website that tracks whether certain colleges and universities plan to use virtual proctoring software during the fall semester.
The platforms — like ProctorU and Proctorio — often make use of students’ webcams to watch and record them as they work, using automated systems or live monitors to flag possible signs of cheating. The practice has sparked controversy in the US, with critics in both academia and government citing privacy concerns and the potential for such software to discriminate against marginalized students. Still, some colleges began using eproctoring last year to watch for dishonesty on take-home exams, after moving testing online due to COVID-19.
Many schools will resume in-person examinations this fall due to the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines, but it seems that some plan to continue using eproctoring software in some capacity. Fight for the Future says it has asked a number of colleges about their plans and has stamped each one with labels for “Won’t Use,” “Might Use,” and “Are Using.” (Colleges that haven’t responded to Fight for the Future’s inquiries got a “Might Use.”) Viewers are prompted to tweet at and email each university to denounce the software’s use.
Also on the front page is a “webcam image test” meant to determine whether eproctoring algorithms could accurately identify a viewer’s face (following reports that such algorithms disproportionately fail to identify faces with darker skin tones). Fight for the Future says the test uses the same computer vision software used by prominent eproctoring platform Proctorio, but insists that it doesn’t collect any data from the widget.
The website also urges followers to sign a petition addressed to school administrators and to submit “eproctoring horror stories” to the organization.