Extended distance learning, biometrics concerns spark protest against surveillance apps

The University of California-Davis undergraduate student senate has unanimously passed a law ‘urging’ professors to ditch monitoring software during the current winter academic term, in part because of concerns regarding its use of biometrics.

Remote learning has been extended through Jan. 28 by the school’s chancellor, which will include midterms, according to student news publisher The Davis Vanguard.

Remote monitoring services have become increasingly controversial. They tend to use facial biometrics and have been observed to be less effective at verifying people who are non-white, middle-aged, and male.

And because most students take tests remotely at home, background activity and sounds can be recorded briefly and possibly analyzed. It is considered an unnecessary invasion of privacy.

Any problem in the biometrics-based login process or during an exam leads to delays in timed exams or even the wrongful ejection of a student.

Other concerns cited relate to access to technology and identity documents.

Student senators require more than a stay. They want all overseer contracts to end.

University administrators said digital proctoring is more accurate than conventional proctoring at keeping applicants honest and measuring how well they know a subject, according to the Vanguard.

It is unclear whether student legislation can force a change in university policy.

Article topics

precision | biometrics | facial biometrics | identity verification | monitoring | confidentiality | students

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