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Response to RTL Nieuws

A case brought to court in Amsterdam raised concerns about Proctorio’s face detection models. The Dutch Institute of Human Rights heard the claims about the software exhibiting bias against students with darker skin tones, leading to unequal treatment during exams. The student who attended Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam asserted the software was discriminatory after having trouble accessing her exam when it came time to test the camera.

“The software didn’t recognize me as a human being, and the university ignored my experience… It should not be the case that some students have to use a lamp in their face, some students lose time or can't access their exam just because of the color of their skin.” - Robin Pocornie, student at VU Amsterdam

It is accurate to say that facial detection algorithms are dependent on lighting. However, this is true for all users, no matter their skin color. If the person is overexposed or underexposed, the camera may fail. The camera may fail due to the glare of a person’s glasses, or even poor hardware quality.

images of incorrect student verification and then correct student verification

In the Webcam Image Test, if the person does not pass, a live support chat is automatically opened with a Proctorio agent, offering immediate assistance to resolve any potential issues.

In the Pocornie case, it was determined during the investigation led by VU Amsterdam that the student was able to enter each of their exams (15 in total) in 1 minute or less except for a single instance when she experienced a 2 minute delay. It was determined at the time (and by the test-taker themself over chat with a Proctorio agent) their glasses prevented them from entering. After adjusting or removing them she was able to pass the verification step. No other exams had attached chat transcripts, so we can conclude that she passed this step everytime in two or less attempts.

Proctorio recognizes bias is a serious issue–so much so that we’ve had our algorithm audited by a third party. While it was determined to have no significant bias toward anyone, we acknowledge the concerns raised by users and aim to go beyond mere compliance. Telling people there is no significant bias when they experience difficulty using our product and when entering an exam is not acceptable to us.

We take pride in our efforts to have our product work as efficiently as possible. We realize taking assessments can induce anxiety and while we cannot prevent this, we can make efforts to minimize it.

Proctorio is actively addressing concerns related to our facial detection algorithms and ensuring a fair and inclusive online proctoring experience for all students. While challenges persist, we acknowledge the need for ongoing improvements and are actively working towards that goal. By embracing transparency, inviting external audits, and striving to minimize bias and technical issues, Proctorio aims to provide a proctoring solution that prioritizes student welfare while maintaining academic integrity.

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