UCSB ProctorU data sharing

Occurred: March 2020

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In March 2020, faculty association members at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) sent a letter (pdf) to the university's administration raising concerns about whether online proctoring service ProctorU would share student data with third parties.

According to the letter, 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.

ProctorU's (now renamed Meazure Learning) privacy policy says personal data collected may be disclosed to third parties for undefined 'business and commercial purposes'.

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.

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 swiftly 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.'

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