Ban Eproctoring: Fight for the Future launches scorecard and facial analysis tool to expose harms of invasive, racist, and ableist software

Posted June 16, 2021, 4:03 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 16, 2021

press@fightforthefuture.org

A new scorecard from Fight for the Future rounds up which universities plan to continue using harmful eproctoring apps despite outcry from students and human rights organizations. Also on the page: a facial analysis tool built on the same software as Proctorio that lets anyone check whether the racist technology can see their face.

In the struggle for equity and respect in academic testing, Fight for the Future has launched a new scorecard detailing which university administrations plan to continue with harmful eproctoring software in Fall 2021. The scorecard lists dozens of top US universities and currently indicates that MIT, University of California Berkeley, and Princeton are among the universities that have ended any contracts for eproctoring software.

When asked about their plans for eproctoring, a spokesperson for Princeton University stated: "Exams at Princeton are administered under the University’s Honor Code. Whether taken in class or virtually, they are not proctored."

Members of the press can view the scorecard now at BanEproctoring.com

Also on the page is a new tool that allows anyone to experience the same algorithms that pervasive eproctoring app Proctorio uses to analyze the faces of students. After reports of Proctorio struggling to detect the faces of Black students, it was exposed to be built on algorithms that fail to detect Black faces 57% of the time.

"Eproctoring programs are a pandemic-era embarrassment that unethical companies are pulling out all the stops to try and make a permanent part of learning," said Lia Holland (she/they), Campaigns and Communications Director at Fight for the Future. "These eproctoring programs are starting to trickle down from universities into K-12 education as well, and present a fundamental threat to the equity and lifelong privacy of child and adult students alike. If MIT and Princeton can do without eproctoring, other universities have no excuse to continue with this discriminatory software that doesn’t even work. Eproctoring is snake oil, pure and simple, and human rights advocates will not stand by while educational institutions continue to turn students into victims of these racist, ableist, and classist tech companies."

Eproctoring software companies are currently facing numerous lawsuits, with students subject to privacy violations and nonconsensual biometric data collection. Universities that indicated they plan to continue with eproctoring apps include University of Colorado at Boulder, Louisiana State University, and University of Maryland. The full scorecard is available and continually updated at BanEProctoring.com.

Eproctoring programs are invasive, dangerous, and fail to prevent academic dishonesty. They demonstrate systemic bias against non-white students, are harmful for students with testing anxiety, and discriminate against students with disabilities. They also treat students as if they are guilty until proven innocent, which is a disrespectful and harmful stance for any academic institution to take.

"The data privacy of college students, and increasingly younger children, is under threat. Young people are being forced to use invasive surveillance in order to get an education," said Erica Darragh (she/her), Campaigner and Community Manager at Fight for the Future. "Companies claim that students are consenting to eproctoring’s data collection, but many students don’t understand what they’re agreeing to, and too often students don’t really have a choice on whether to use the technology."

Even eproctoring solutions that do not use a video component force students to surrender an unacceptable amount of control over their devices to a third party company—including browser histories, keystroke tracking, and the ability to change privacy settings. The databases these companies accrue on students have already been hacked and remain vulnerable.

Eproctoring companies are facing numerous lawsuits for compromising user data and misleading students about data collection practices, especially biometric data collection like face, voice, and fingerprints. Some students are suing their academic institutions for forcing them to use what amounts to glorified spyware in order to complete their classes.