proctor-copy-640x347Here’s an interesting story from Ars Technica that mentions an anti-cheating proctoring service that uses biometric measurements to try to detect when students are apparently cheating. The focus of the story seems to be on whether this service actually deleted all the biometric data it collected after 90 days like it said it would, but I think the far more interesting aspect is that this service exists at all.

The local newspaper previously reported that Verificent had yet to purge the data collected by its Proctortrack software. The information collected includes knuckle and face prints, audio and video recordings, ID scans, and other private information. The software scans for abnormalities in eye or body movement that could be signs of cheating, and it allows instructors to review the footage later. The company even warns students, “You must be alone, at a desk and chair so that you are sitting up-right during the test. If other people are around you, you could be disqualified.”

Ars Technica just sort of let that gem float on by while devoting the entire rest of the article to just when the 90 days was supposed to start, how students were notified of the deletion, and so on.

I mean, seriously, where do I even start? Is cheating such an epidemic that we now have to use computers to scan for it? (Complete with a company logo that suggests a camera eye looking at you, no less.) What about the question of false positives? Who do you complain to if the computer fingered you for “cheating” and you just have a lazy eye or allergies or whatever? Yes, the footage is supposed to be reviewed by human instructors afterward, but we’ve all heard of cases where people are predisposed to give more credence to what the allegedly infallible computer tells them. Isn’t it just the slightest bit creepy?

And this was apparently considered “normal” enough that Ars Technica found the question of whether the data was deleted when the company said it would to be more compelling. Are college students taking tests in 1984 now?

I can’t wait for that new Matt Damon movie to come out. Being stranded on Mars is starting to look more and more appealing.


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