Facing student privacy concerns, UBC maintains relationship with Proctorio

UBC will not terminate its relationship with Proctorio, it announced in a statement released on Friday, July 3.

On June 27, the CEO of Proctorio released a transcript of a UBC student’s conversation with a customer support worker on Reddit. UBC community members raised questions regarding privacy concerns of releasing the chat logs, as well as renewed calls for UBC to terminate their relationship with the online proctoring service.

Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning Simon Bates and Legal Counsel, Information and Privacy, Paul Hancock wrote that they are aware of recent concerns about the service, and called the tone of the conversation “regrettable.”

“In regards to the recent incident where a student posted an incomplete and misleading version of an interaction with Proctorio and Proctorio subsequently posted more of the chat log, we are disappointed by the way that conversation played out in a public way online,” Bates and Hancock wrote.

But in the statement, Bates and Hancock noted that Proctorio did not have access to identifying information about the student from the chat log, and when it was posted online, only messages from the customer support worker were posted on Reddit.

“After a careful review, we are confident that Proctorio did not reveal any personal information of the student and that no privacy breach occurred,” they wrote.

Concerns of privacy centred around the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). But according to a spokesperson for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC, “FIPPA applies if the contents of a communication or any information about that communication identifies an individual,” they wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey.

Proctorio went through a privacy impact assessment a few years ago in which the university determined that Proctorio met the requirements of FIPPA and standards spelled out in UBC’s Information Systems Policy.

Bates and Hancock emphasize in the statement that Proctorio use is optional and is decided by faculty members. They wrote that in some programs with accreditation requirements, “invigilation is required by the accrediting body.”

“In either case, tools to support online exam invigilation will continue to be an option we make available to faculty members to safeguard academic integrity,” they wrote.

Bates and Hancock encourage students to provide feedback on this decision.