New Delhi: Recently an incident has come to light raising concerns about the safety and privacy of students as well as their personal data due to the proctoring practice being employed by many colleges for examinations. Students of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) have alleged harassment by a proctor, hired by the institute to invigilate examinations online. The proctor started cyberstalking some of the students and contacted them on WhatsApp. According to the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), proctoring technology uses Artificial Intelligence-powered algorithms to keep a check on candidates during online examinations. It uses facial recognition, surveys, and records surrounding audio of the students’ room and monitors changes in their line of sight by capturing photographs at 15-20 second intervals to catch unfair practices during examinations. It also monitors a student›s screen. Such instances have increased in this Covid era as cybercrime has become a major challenge.

Shubham Singh, Ethical Hacker, and Cybercrime Investigator, told The Sunday Guardian: “Instead of focusing on pros and cons, the conversation we should be having today is about leveraging online education to make our education systems more conducive to learning.”

The cybercrime investigator also said that cyber-stalkers can use software and hardware devices (sometimes attached to the back of your PC without you even knowing it) to monitor their victims. “If you encounter someone who is engaging in cyberstalking behaviour and it seems serious, or you begin to receive threats, you should report it to the police. Keep in mind many police departments have cybercrime units, and cyberstalking is a crime,” he said. “Let kids know they have a right to privacy and there are laws in place to protect it. Discuss the reasons for age restrictions, and explain the risks in an age-appropriate way. Ask them what they are worried about when it comes to their privacy. Identify areas where they need more knowledge or support. Cyber safety programs in schools can help start a dialogue about privacy in the classroom, the playground, and at home. It’s a good idea to block risky sites at school, but that won’t stop students from trying to access them. Talk about why the sites are being blocked, and educate the students on better ways to use the internet. The more knowledge they have, the less vulnerable to risk they will be. Most kids are aware of the concept of a ‘digital footprint’. Remind them that they may feel comfortable sharing something now, but this could change in the future,” Singh added.

Children across the globe are forced to take classes online and use online platforms to entertain themselves. This has also increased their risk of exposure to inappropriate content and falling prey to cybercriminals as they get easily lured by online games and interactive media.

Pankit Desai, Co-founder and CEO, Sequretek, told The Sunday Guardian: “There needs to be a healthy balance on / offline curriculum for an effective learning experience for kids. Educational institutes need to figure out a way to make both of them happen and that too with adequate safety measures. There is a risk in both, and they need to be adequately weighed. The sheer amount of time being spent online, and not for gaming/entertainment but education purposes, and that too unsupervised by parents.”