In an open letter released today, the heads of 13 seperate ANU clubs and societies came out against the University proposal to use the remote invigilation program Proctorio, calling the decision “unacceptable” and “extreme.” ANUSA released a similar statement not long after echoing many of the letter’s concerns, and requesting the University seek alternative arrangements.

The letter, which expressed the group’s explicit objection to the use of Proctorio, outlined serious privacy concerns associated with using such a program. The access to students’ computers, they say, including webcams, microphones and personal files, should provoke great concern. It then went on to state that the University’s claim that the program’s restriction on privacy is no different to that experienced in a physically invigilated exam, was “patently untrue.”  ANUSA commented that if Proctorio was to be used by any course, that a restriction be placed on the use of the “more invasive options.”

The letter also highlighted the increased requirements for students to even sit an exam using Proctorio; needing an empty room, a reliable internet connection and a compatible personal computer, raising accessibility concerns. The letter argues that this — combined with the program’s inability to cater for individual Access and Inclusion arrangements — makes the proposal unacceptable.

The letter called for the University to find an alternative approach for conducting end-of-semester exams that are acceptable for all students. Failing this, they requested the University ensure the ‘opt-out’ policy is well communicated to students and not treated as a “fall back or last resort.” It concluded by applauding the work of teaching staff in creating effective contingency plans that do not rely on this programming masquerading as a panacea.

Woroni understands that the ANU is currently preparing a paper on privacy related to online learning tools such as Zoom and Proctorio.