In early September, security researcher Erik Johnson posted a series of long tweets directed at Proctorio, an Arizona software company, noting that several schools, including the one they attended, were using the company’s software to monitor students receiving distance learning. Then six weeks later, Johnson received an email notification from Twitter informing him that three tweets had been deleted in response to Proctorio’s claim to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
While remote monitoring software is nothing new, the COVID-19 pandemic has led more and more schools to start using remote monitoring software for students taking exams and tests at home.
But after students are forced to install the school’s surveillance software, exam administrators can also gain deep access to students’ computers, including common peripherals such as cameras and microphones, to ensure that students are free of potential cheating.
Many students, however, complain that remote monitoring software is a big problem in itself. Vice, for example, reports that the must-have software doesn’t recognize darker skin tones and relies on high-speed Internet connections, but many low-income families don’t.
Unfortunately, as long as any of these checks do not meet the requirements, whether the student is aware or not, the test scores may be invalidated.
Thousands of students in Washington and Florida have asked schools to stop using remote monitoring software, including Proctorio, citing confidentiality and security risks.
Even so, Proctorio, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, argues that its products are quite privacy-friendly. Although students must install the Chrome extension to take the quiz, you can remove it manually after the test is complete.
Unlike desktop software, most Chrome extensions can easily download, view, and verify their source code, as the curious Johnson did.
However, after posting his findings on Twitter, three of the tweets were used by Proctorio to use DCMA rights and asked the platform to remove them.
It is reported that the deleted content describes how Proctorio determines that students are potentially cheating. For example, after a student “switches the network” or the software detects “abnormal clicks” and “eye movements,” the system “terminates” the student’s test.
The tweets are also accompanied by a link to the Proctorio Chrome extension snippet ,which Johnson posted to the code-sharing site Pastebin, but are not currently accessible (both the Internet Archive and the Time Machine cache have been excluded).
In response, a Twitter spokesman said in an interview withmedia: “In accordance with our copyright policy, we will respond to valid DCMA complaints from copyright owners (or authorized representatives).”
The text of the notice provided by Johnson to the outside media is available, and John Devoy, Director of Marketing at Proctorio, was commissioned by Mike Olsen, CEO of the Company, to launch this copyright removal request.
But Mike Olsen said in a telephone interview that the University of Miami had accepted the company’s user terms on behalf of students and that Johnson’s message on Twitter violated relevant terms.