Monday, December 21, 2020

Online proctoring services pose privacy concerns for remote learning - Vox

Online proctoring services pose privacy concerns for remote learning - Vox
How teachers [sic] are sacrificing student privacy to stop cheating
Surveillance software for remote learning is drawing criticism from privacy advocates and lawmakers.

As the fall semester began at the University of Nevada, Reno, psychology professor Mark Lescroart faced an increasingly common dilemma for teachers: How to prevent his newly remote students from cheating on the quizzes and exams he’d designed to be taken in class with supervision.

“I have been uncomfortable with the idea that cheating is pretty easy when you’re online,” Lescroart told Recode in October.

One possible solution his university provided was Proctorio, an online proctoring service that uses machine learning. But Lescroart didn’t like the prospect of third-party software recording and analyzing his students in their homes. Ultimately, he decided that violating their privacy was worse than leaving a potential cheater uncaught.

But many teachers around the country have come to a different conclusion. As online education has become the norm in the Covid-19 pandemic, they’ve opted to use services like Proctorio. The services have ignited controversy, too. Privacy advocates hate them, and students have protested, starting petitions and accusing the services of being invasive, discriminatory, and inaccurate.

In December, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) accused five online test proctoring services, including Proctorio, of unfair and deceptive trade practices in a complaint filed with the Office of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia. EPIC also informed the five companies that it is preparing to file a lawsuit unless they change their practices. Several US senators have also recently written to the companies producing these tools to request more information about privacy, bias, and accessibility concerns raised by their tools.

Some educators have spoken out against this tech or, like Lescroart, have opted not to use it. But for the most part, the schools that use the software haven’t budged, citing the importance of maintaining academic integrity.

“All these things are kind of predicated on a relationship where academic dishonesty is CONTINUE READING: Online proctoring services pose privacy concerns for remote learning - Vox