VU must prove anti-cheat software did not discriminate against black students | Technician

VU University Amsterdam (VU) must prove that its anti-fraud software did not discriminate against a female student because of her dark skin colour. It made it sufficiently plausible that this was indeed the case.

This is what the Institute for Human Rights affirms in an interlocutory opinion on the complaint that the student had presented to the institute. The VU has ten weeks to provide proof.

Masters student Robin Pocornie said she had trouble activating the mandatory Proctorio anti-cheat software during her exams. According to the Bioinformatics student, the VU should have checked in advance whether students with black skin color are recognized as well as white students.

For the time being, the Council agrees with Pocornie that she has been discriminated against because of the color of her skin. “There is a suspicion that there is discrimination,” a spokesperson told NU.nl. “We will give the VU more time before reaching a final judgement.”

According to the Institute, scientific research has shown that facial-detection software generally works less well with people with darker skin tones.

Pocornie is legally assisted by the Racism and Technology Center. A spokesperson tells NU.nl that the organization is satisfied with the council’s provisional opinion.

The VU informs NU.nl that it wants to demonstrate in the next ten weeks that the anti-cheat software used did not discriminate. The University of Amsterdam wants to respond substantially only after the final judgment of the Council.

In October, during the substantive handling of the complaint, the VU said it had tried to limit the risk of software malfunctions as much as possible. Students could practice with it during a practice exam. According to the university, if this caused problems, they had the option of taking the real exam in a university building.

The VU admitted at the time that it had not considered possible discrimination through software. “The color factor of the student house was not considered a possible risk at the time.”

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