Students of Mumbai-based Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) have reportedly been harassed by a proctor — an official hired by the institute to invigilate exams online. The proctor, named Amit, allegedly started cyber stalking some of the students and tried to communicate with them on WhatsApp.
Amit allegedly reached out to two students who were writing an examination at the institute. “Two of my batchmates were harassed by a proctor named Amit. He repeatedly contacted the students during the exam and even on WhatsApp after the exam ended. When officials were informed about this, they insisted that students continue with their examinations and not let this situation affect her studies,” a student at the institute told TNM. Proctors have access to the student’s webcam and can even ask students to change the view of their webcam.
Besides NMIMS, several other higher education institutes in the country including IIT-Bombay, Delhi Technological University, SRM University (Chennai), OP Jindal Global University (Sonipat), and Mumbai University have used proctoring technology for their exams in the last few months. According to the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), proctoring technology uses Artificial Intelligence powered algorithms to keep a check on candidates during online exams. It uses facial recognition, surveys and records surrounding audio of the student’s room and monitors changes in their line of sight by capturing photographs at 15-20 second intervals to catch unfair practices during exams. It also monitors a student’s screen.
On Friday, the institute issued an official statement about the allegations. “NMIMS condemns the proctors’ behaviour and this is absolutely unacceptable from our end. NMIMS has zero-tolerance for any activities by anyone, that is in violation of NMIMS’s code of conduct and values,” a statement shared on the institute’s social media account read.
“NMIMS has raised these concerns with our technology partner, METTL Management. They have assured that they are taking the strictest action, including approaching the police against the proctors indulging in such behaviour and violating the code of conduct. They have also assured us that they will be taking all the necessary steps and following thorough due diligence processes while engaging proctors. We assure students that the METTL is not permitted to capture students’ personal information,” it added.
The incident has flagged privacy concerns pertaining to online proctoring. On Saturday, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) wrote to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Education raising concerns about the technology used in exam proctoring.
“Use of this highly invasive technology has led to higher levels of stress and anxiety in students who have already been one of the worst affected groups in the pandemic. The constant threat of being flagged by the technology for a perceived wrongful action in addition to the stress of the exam being given leads to a student having heightened anxiety level,” the note read.
It further stated that the technology collects data such as full name, date of birth, address, phone number, scans of government-issued identity documents, educational institution affiliation, and student ID numbers. Besides, photographs are also taken and sound is monitored. “While such gathering and retaining of data is objectively harmful, the harms are increased in India where we do not currently have a data protection law in place to ensure the data privacy of students,” added IFF.
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