Proctorio and its CEO are Worse than a Proctology Exam
Hundreds of thousands of students around the world are fighting back against creepy e-proctoring app Proctorio and their equally creepy CEO, Mike Olsen.
Major universities like Columbia, Vanderbilt, Howard, and UT AustinColumbia, Vanderbilt, Howard, and UT Austin (Read more in this article), as well as major textbook companies like McGraw-HillMcGraw-Hill (Read more in this article) are ignoring student’s real and substantiatedsubstantiated (Read more about concerns in this article) concerns about the racism, ableism, privacy violations, abuses of powerracism, ableism, privacy violations, abuses of power (Read more in this article), and bad-spiritedness of Proctorio.
They’re allying themselves with this guy, Mike Olsen.
Mike thinks that getting an education should be just like a proctology exam. It should include peeing in a cup, revealing intimate personal information, crying and cursing in front of an authority figure who holds your future in their hands, as well as having your lap area documented repeatedly and sent for analysis steeped in systemic racism and ableism.
But whereas proctology exams are medically important for certain folks over age 55, Mike wants everyone to endure Proctorio at age 18 (or younger), and his favorite part is making it all happen on camera.
This guy is raking in oodles of money by forcing teenagers to submit to an ineffective technology that may be more invasive and damaging than a doctor’s finger up your anus. Some people, like racial justice and human rights organizations—as well as a coalition of Senators—are looking into Proctorio’s bunk tech that may actually encourage cheating. Sign the petition against eproctoring
Bummer for Mike, because he’s all about teenagers being forced to film their laps and their living spaces for untrained and unsupervised professors, teaching assistants, and other authority figures. That’s why he founded Proctorio, because some people in education are so worried about students cheating their way through an outdated and ineffective praxis that they will literally make young people film themselves for a spyware app.
Seems like that’s just Mike’s sort of thing.Tell Mike he's creepy
But what Mike doesn’t like is criticism. He’s the sort of guy to hold a grudge. And boy, this middle-aged adult CEO has got it out for 18 year old Erik Johnson. Erik, a freshman at Ohio’s Miami University posted some of Proctorio’s code—data that’s legal for anyone to see and share—on Twitter. Mike was SO bummed that Erik would dare to interrupt Mike’s filming of teenage laps that he made his lawyers intimidate Twitter into taking Erik’s posts down.
And there was that one time where another student said something mean about Mike’s cams on Reddit. Mike wouldn’t stand for it, so he logged into Proctorio’s customer service database and posted private information about that student in the comments.
Sick burn, Mike.
There’s more, like Mike’s SLAPP lawsuit against University of British Columbia educational technologist Ian Linkletter—and the fact that Proctorio uses racially biased facial recognition software. Mike gets real pissy when you call it that, though. He prefers “facial detection”—when in fact all facial analysis algorithms are imperfect, bunk, racist science that deserve no place in assessing who is a “cheater” when it comes to taking tests that might determine a young person’s future.
Despite Mike’s self-aggrandizing Twitter handle “@ArtfulHacker” (a characterization from a 1990s PC Magazine article that lives on only in every bio Mike writes for himself), we as digital rights experts can definitively state that Mike isn’t ‘artfully hacking’ anything. He’s creepy and Proctorio is too.
Every time we speak with someone who has encountered Mike Olsen, we learn about something else gross about him. Here’s a partial list:
- Mike's PR strategy when being sued for abusing the DMCA to censor a student critic is apparently to launch another SLAPP lawsuit—this time against Erik Johnson. But they aren't stopping at Eric. They've subpoenaed the creators of this website, Fight for the Future, for everything we have ever said about Proctorio. Our motion to quash declares this effort a "veritable trawling operation" intended to punish us for our advocacy. Cute, Mike.
- Mike's artful hacking created a "shocking" vulnerability that exposed tens of thousands of students' private personal webcams to hackers who could watch them without their knowing.
- Mike's shitty PR team really had to reach for Earth Day 2021—claiming responsibility for the reduced greenhouse gas emissions from pandemic shutdowns across the globe.
- Mike lying that Proctorio's facial recognition/analysis/whatever-he-calls-it-today tech isn't biased, even though it's proven to actually be a white-labeled racist technology that can't detect Black faces 57% of the time.
- Mike celebrating that articles about his tech being racist and “Orwellian” make him more money
- Mike belittling student’s concerns: “It’s hilarious, students pretending to care where their data goes. Whether they’re cheating or not, I don’t really care, but then they go out and they just say things. They don’t do any research, they just make things up.”
- Mike’s “bizarre” SLAPP lawsuit against University of British Columbia educational technologist Ian Linkletter
- Mike’s “freakishly disrespectful” posting of private chatlogs between a student and customer service on Reddit: ““If you’re gonna lie bro... don’t do it when the company clearly has an entire transcript of your conversation.”
- Mike “absolutely inappropriate” abuse of Twitter’s DMCA process to remove a student’s critical tweets
- The peer-reviewed article on the “eugenic gaze” of Proctorio that Mike tried to get a journal to retract
- Mike’s “insane” efforts to intimidate an 18-year-old critic of Proctorio via Twitter DM and by blocking his IP address from accessing Proctorio’s platform
- Documents obtained under the freedom of information act that show, for example, that at least 408 different people at Texas Tech University may have access to Proctorio files of K-12 as well as university students using the technology that Mike tried to get removed from Muckrock
- Mike’s big lie about who Proctorio’s clients actually are on Proctorio’s homepage in February 2021.
- Mike telling The Washington Post “We’re the police.”
- Mike telling Business Insider "I didn't get into proctoring to fix a pedagogical problem. I'm not a pedagogical expert, I don't know if there are better ways to do things."
- Mike trying to intimidate people who used the Freedom of Information Act to learn more about Proctorio at universities—creating an "enemy list" of critic names
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