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3 proctoring app makers fidget as they are tested

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If darting eyes are a possible sign of anxiety (and they are), there are makers of three automated biometric proctoring applications who might want to avoid taking monitored tests for a while.

Executives of three app makers, Proctorio, ProctorU and Respondus, are in the hot seat over allegations of biased biometric algorithms, inadequate security and data privacy violations, respectively.

Proctoring apps can watch for behaviors that indicate someone is more anxious than might be expected, for example. That test takers have done or plan to do something that they might later regret.

Proctorio

According to an article in Vice, a software researcher claims he can show that the facial recognition algorithm in Proctorio’s app does not recognize people of color at least half the time.

Researcher Akash Satheesan saw that the names of the company’s Chrome browser extensions were the same as those in open source computer vision software library OpenCV. Biometric facial recognition and detection built on OpenCV, according to Vice, have proved biased.

A Proctorio spokesperson reportedly hedged on how OpenCV, for which the company has a license, is implemented in the proctoring app.

ProctorU

ProctorU executives are facing accusations of a sloppy browser extension software, too.

Online publication CyberScoop has reported that US Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) maneuvered leaders of ProctorU into getting an independent security audit for its software, which monitor students taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) battery.

Wyden has said he is not convinced that ProctorU has taken the precautions needed to keep hackers from gaining access to test takers’ devices via the proctoring extension.

According to CyberScoop, the Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT, has said it has heard no complaints about ProctorU software wandering through students’ computers.

Executives did not have a lot of room to ignore the request. Just last year, ProctorU was hit by a data breach.

Respondus

And, finally, Respondus, which is involved in multiple biometric data privacy lawsuits in Illinois, wants a federal judge there to let it destroy video recordings potentially relevant to the cases.

Plaintiffs allege that Respondus’ software violates the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act. Access to several years of the data in question is needed for the discovery portion of the cases, according to Law360.

The problem is that the firm’s standard contract requires that all data gathered in a proctoring session must be deleted within five years of creation.

On deadline, the judge had not decided the matter, having orders both sides to depose a Respondus employee to find out what is in the records and how they are maintained.

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