19 human rights, civil liberties, and youth advocacy organizations demand that school administrators stop using eproctoring

Posted July 8, 2021, 7:02 PM

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 8th
CONTACT: press@fightforthefuture.org

Fight for the Future and 18 human rights, civil liberties, and youth advocacy organizations have published a letter calling on school administrators to ban eproctoring apps like Proctorio, ProctorU, and Proctortrack. The letter details serious concerns about eproctoring, including its invasive data collection, risk for academic harm, inefficacy at preventing academic dishonesty, and the potential to perpetuate racism and ableism. Signatories are calling for a complete ban on eproctoring technology in both university and K-12 settings.

The letter reads in part:

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.

View the full letter and list of signatories at BanEproctoring.com/#Letter

Eproctoring companies exploited educators’ panic at the beginning of the pandemic, but many schools are still deciding whether to sign new contracts for the upcoming fall semester. Princeton, MIT, and Stanford are among those that have stated they do not intend to use eproctoring software. The scorecard of where universities stand on the embattled technology, as well as a widget that allows anyone to test whether eproctoring software could detect their face, is available at BanEProctoring.com.

Leaders from the sign on organizations issued the following statements, and are available for comment upon request:

"Eproctoring is spyware, and forcing students to use it is dangerous and unethical. Schools and eproctoring companies claim that students are consenting to the surveillance, but privacy policies are complicated and deceptive, and often students don’t actually have a choice about using eproctoring. In order to protect students, school administrators must ban eproctoring." said Erica Darragh, Campaigner and Community Manager at Fight for the Future.

"Eproctoring has a demonstrated track record of being racist, ableist, invasive, and harmful for students’ mental health," said Amanda Kloer, Campaigns Director with ParentsTogether, a parent-led organization with 2.5 million members. "Parents have shared horror stories of their children being accused of cheating for minor eye movement, feeling scared showing strangers their bedrooms, and not being able to take tests because of their skin color. E-proctoring software invades student privacy and discriminates against kids, and it has no place in K-12 schools."

Bob Schaeffer, Executive Director at National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), said, "Eproctoring technology is clearly not ready for prime time. Based on complaints FairTest has received from test-takers and teachers, the software often mislabels totally normal behaviors as ‘cheating.’ The false positive warnings appear to be more common for African American and LatinX students. From both the equity and education quality perspectives, eproctoring products should not be used for administering either K-12 or college exams.”

“Eproctoring is an invasive, unaccountable, and discriminatory practice that has no place in an educational environment built on mutual trust and respect. Educators should reject eproctoring and rethink the way students are evaluated in many courses to avoid the use of these toxic surveillance tools," said John Davisson, Senior Counsel, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Sean O'Brien, founder of Yale Privacy Lab, stated: "Eproctoring tech is classroom surveillance, period. Not only is it invasive from a privacy perspective, but it’s a nightmare from an accessibility standpoint and inherently biased against people of color. If you care more about student cheating than the success of your students, you’re looking for answers to the wrong questions and embracing bad pedagogy.”

Tracy Rosenberg, Advocacy Director at Oakland Privacy, said, "Electronic proctoring software that uses facial recognition and/or tracks eye movements and keystrokes during testing processes treats students like criminals, creating anxiety and fear. Inadequacies in the software can have powerfully disparate impacts for numerous reasons, including skin color, exam taking techniques, and student temperament. Students should be focused during examinations on demonstrating what they know about the subject, not on controlling the lights, the direction of their eyeballs, or the speed of their keystrokes to manage imperfect and invasive software. Redirecting test taking from demonstrating subject matter mastery to coping with buggy surveillance software defeats the educational purpose of tests and examinations.“

"Eproctoring is harmful, unreliable, and invasive, compounding long-standing practices of school surveillance. As a coalition of student organizers against algorithmic injustice, Encode Justice firmly opposes the use of e-proctoring, which disproportionately penalizes Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ students while creating an atmosphere of fear and anxiety for test-takers," said Sneha Revanur, founder of Encode Justice, a youth-led organization fighting for digital rights.

Sarah Noon, US Federal Policy Liaison at Students for Sensible Drug Policy, stated, "Algorithmic test proctoring software has not been designed to be inclusive of all students and identities. This surveillance technology will lead to more students being wrongfully accused of academic dishonesty, particularly those with disabilities and marginalized groups who already face systemic bias. E-proctoring is invasive and endangers the most vulnerable students. The software would surely exacerbate the disparities culminating in the school-to-prison pipeline. We must trust students, respect their privacy, and refrain from technology that is sure to make mistakes and wrongfully target, invade, and hurt people.”

Signers include:

Access Now
Center for Democracy & Technology
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Encode Justice
Fight for the Future
Kairos
Media Alliance
MPower Change
National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest)
National Lawyers Guild
Oakland Privacy
ParentsTogether
PDX Privacy
Restore the Fourth Minnesota
S.T.O.P. - The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project
Secure Justice
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
X-Lab
Yale Privacy Lab