Western University students raise concerns over anti-cheating program “Proctortrack”

LONDON ONT. — University of Western Ontario (UWO) students say an anti-cheating program called ‘Proctortrack,’ is “invasive,” and it “poses a massive security risk for students’ privacy.”

A recent petition on Change.org titled; “Stop the use of Proctortrack at Western University,” has almost reached their goal of 7,500 signatures in less than a week.

The petition cites that the software collects the following data from users; 

“Personal Information collected through our Services may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Name Address
  • Zip Code
  • Photograph of identity document, such as a driver’s license
  • Photograph of you
  • Telephone Number
  • Usernames and Passwords
  • Name of the Test Sponsor(s) 
  • Employment information
  • E-mail address
  • Test submissions
  • Screen-captures
  • Audio and video recordings of you taking tests and the test-room environment
  • Biometric data, including biometric identifiers (such as scans of hand or knuckles) and biometric information (such as knuckle, face, or keystroke patterns)
  • Government-issued identification number (if required, or as included in the identity document you provide.)”

Tyler St Onge, one of several thousands who signed the petition commented on his concerns about the software and the University’s decision making skills.

“The fact some professors openly admit to doing zero research into this malware yet expect it to be used for open book exams clearly demonstrates Western’s complete disregard for students. Student safety and privacy is not something to be looked past to save face arbitrarily invading every facet of students’ lives when it is convenient. No amount of cheating will make this attack on students branded as a solution understandable, let alone acceptable.”

Kells Moore of Calgary, AB., signed the petition but he doesn’t attend Western University, but commented that the software is banned at his school. 

“Proctoring software is forbidden at my University because of the issues outlined here. Given the extent of the global pandemic, and the varying degrees of stress in student’s lives right now, this is in extremely poor taste.”

Like Moore said, this isn’t the first time students across Canada have spoken out against Proctortrack.

At the University of Regina, students have recently brought up their own concerns regarding the anti-cheating program. 

In a CBC article from Sept., 22, 2020, Julian Wotherspoon commented on the amount of date the software has access to and proceeds to say,

“It’s just not a level of surveillance that I’m comfortable with.” 

Lakehead University students launched a petition four months ago against Proctortrack which led to the discontinued use of the software at the university. The same results were achieved by York University Students also.

Western’s webpage even says that “the security and data management by Proctortack is not 100 per cent secure.”

According to the London Free Press, data is no longer collected after each test session, but can be held by Proctortrack for as long as 180 days — while ID information can be held up to one year.

One student went as far to post on the reddit thread r/uwo saying “I’m just gonna leave this here.” 

According to haveibeenpwned.com, they suffered a data breach which was then “shared extensively across online hacking communities.” This breach contained the user records of 444,000 which included names, emails, physical addresses, phone numbers and passwords. 

Many students have suggested replacing exams and testing with practical projects, presentations or open book exams — although many won’t get those options.

With many schools choosing to go online this year, perhaps there are better alternatives to combat cheating than Proctortrack.

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