Privacy concerns over online learning grow at the university

Concerns regarding online safety and privacy have come to the attention of many students.

zoom_bombing
Justin O’Toole/THE REVIEW
​Concerns regarding online safety and privacy have come to the attention of many students. ​

BY
​Contributing Reporter​

As the university heads toward final exam week in a semester confined to remote learning, concerns regarding online safety and privacy have come to the attention of many students.

Right off the bat, classes had been hit with Zoom bombing, or targeted hacks into video lectures via the Zoom platform.

Heading into the uncharted territory of online classes had some students concerned.

“Moving everything online is just a bigger risk to my privacy,” Ali Keane, a junior fashion sustainability major, said. “I don’t need my identity stolen or accounts hacked because of circumstances out of my control.”

Two of the major platforms that the university is utilizing in this virtual semester are Zoom for video classes and ProctorU for exam proctoring and administration.

In one week of online classes, there had already been enough Zoom bombing events to grab the attention of university officials.

“UD recognizes that this is a trying time and that adjusting to the online learning environment can be difficult even without the disruption of your classes by Zoom bombers,” José-Luis Riera, the university’s vice president of student life, said in an email to students.

The concerns for security and student privacy do not stop at Zoom, however, as the ProctorU platform has proven to be quite problematic for students as well.

ProctorU allows proctors to police cheating by monitoring the students via their webcam and microphone, and it also gives proctors remote access to students’ personal computers. While many concerns go deeper than just being watched on a webcam, the fact that students are not able to see the proctor watching them is enough to even give the least concerned students some pause.

ProctorU’s privacy policy openly states that they “cannot guarantee the transmissions of [students’] information will always be secure…”

ProctorU did not respond to The Review’s request for comment.

The university has not come forward with any form of guaranteed protection for students that would compensate for identity theft or the stealing of personal data.

Laure Ergin, vice president and general counsel for the university, discussed students’ concerns about their personal information about being protected.

“We believe there are appropriate safeguards in place such that a proctor ProctorU engages has very limited access to your computer,” Ergin said in an email.

The university declined to comment further regarding the chain of responsibility if a privacy breach were to happen.

Final exams, many of which will be taken via the ProctorU platform, are quickly approaching. While there are no confirmed reports of data breaches at the university, many students remain concerned about how much privacy they truly have while using ProctorU.

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