Updated: May 26
By Maja Tuma
Are you one of the students studying and conducting exams from home via different online platforms, due to the pandemic? Have you heard or been subject to Proctorio? Do you know about the Proctorio privacy saga?
WHAT IS PROCTORIO?
Proctorio is an alternative form of examination used by some university faculties during Covid-19. It is a software that collects student’s personal data and records them whilst writing exams in order to prevent fraud during examinations. Recently, it has been largely criticized, due to its potential privacy invasion, by several faculties, students as well as SURF (a Dutch educational and research institution in the field of information and communication technology), which conducted a further research on proctored exam tools, including Proctorio and advised against the indorsement of Proctorio. Read more at https://www.surf.nl/quickscan-privacydocumentatie-online-proctoring
PERSONAL DATA BEING PROCESSED BY PROCTORIO?
- Student’s physical location and optionally requires a scan of his/her testing environment (a video of the room where you will be taking the exam)
- Student’s identity, webcam and microphone
- Computer’s browser tabs and size, entire screen and any other displayed screens connected, clipboard, websites visited, any other applications running
- Student’s eye, head and mouth movement etc.
HOW ARE THE STUDENTS BEING MONITORED BY PROCTORIO?
During the examination, the following behaviour is flagged by Proctorio, signalling to the examination committee to review the footage for fraud:
- Student is looking away from the screen a lot,
- Student leaves the area visible via the webcam,
- Unpermitted sound can be heard,
- Student is using a phone,
- Student is opening unpermitted browser tabs or programs,
- Student is typing much more or less than fellow students, and
- Other people appear on screen.
WHAT SAFEGUARDS ARE IN PLACE?
- It falls under art. 6(1)(f) GDPR, namely the use of Proctorio fulfils “legitimate interest” – fraud control/prevention during examination
- The processed personal data and recordings are stored for 30 days only, after which it is automatically deleted
- Only a few authorized persons of universities (such as members of the examination committee) have access to view such recordings and personal data
- The company that supplies Proctorio cannot access the processed data, as they are encrypted
- The DPO (Data Protection Officer) advised positively on the use of Proctorio, as it is in line with art. 6(1)(f) GDPR
- Proctorio can be used solely for the purpose of fraud prevention during examinations
- The students have a choice, whether they would like to take the exam via Proctorio by submitting their consent after being informed of all of their personal data being processed.
WHAT ARE SOME DISADVANTAGES TO THE STUDENTS?
- If the student is not able to be in the room by themselves, they cannot take the exam
- If the students’ internet connection disconnects, the exam automatically ends
- During the exam you are not able to go to the toilet (sometimes up to 3 hours)
- Even though the students have the ability to choose whether to take the exam via Proctorio, the lack of consent will result in “study delay” with no other alternatives provided by the university faculties
- Let us not forget the Maastricht University incident, where the university educational platform - UM Portal – was hacked less than a year ago. This is just one of many indicators illustrating how data can never be 100% protected against hacking, no matter the extent of precautionary measures taken by the processors.
POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVES PROPOSED BY THE STUDENTS SO FAR
- Time constrained open book exams
- Time constrained multiple choice questions
- Live Zoom call while writing the exam
- Scanning the calculation workings in cases of mathematical exams