ProctorU accused of sharing UCSB student data

Occurred: March 2020

A warning by University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) faculty association members raising concerns about the potential sharing of student data with third parties resulted in a backlash against online proctoring service ProctorU.

According to a March 2020 letter (pdf) to the university's administration, ProctorU 'regularly collects and distributes' a wide range of student information such as social security numbers, browsing history, gender identity, medical conditions, fingerprints, faceprints, voiceprints, retina scans and more.

The faculty went on to say ProctorU's data privacy practices 'implicates the university into becoming a surveillance tool' and to recommend UCSB terminate its contract with ProctorU and discourage professors from using similar services. ProctorU's (now renamed Meazure Learning) privacy policy says personal data collected may be disclosed to third parties for undefined 'business and commercial purposes'.

In response, ProctorU attorney David Lance Lucas threatened (pdf) to sue the faculty association for defamation and violating copyright law, and accused it of 'directly impacting efforts to mitigate civil disruption across the United States' by interfering with education during a national emergency. 

Lucas' threat was condemned as inaccurate and unreasonable bullying by senior lawyers and others. According to Vice, ProctorU never filed a lawsuit against the UCSB faculty association. But the threat 'had a chilling effect on professors’ willingness to discuss the software.'

The incident highlighted concerns about ProctorU's data sharing practices, and its heavy-handed use of legal threats to shut down legimate discussion about its products.

System 🤖

Operator: University of California (UCSB)
Developer: Meazure Learning/ProctorU
Country: USA
Sector: Education
Purpose: Detect and prevent cheating
Technology: Facial recognition; Fingerprint recognition; Voice recognition
Issue: Privacy
Transparency: Legal

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: January 2023