The controversial proctoring platform Proctorio has filed a broad subpoena against prominent digital rights nonprofit Fight for the Future as part of its legal battle with Miami University student Erik Johnson, in what the group describes as an attempt to silence critics. through legal maneuvers.
The battle between Johnson and the company began in September 2020 when the student posted a lengthy Twitter thread criticizing Proctorio’s practices, including snippets of the platform’s source code that he posted on PasteBin. Proctorio has filed a copyright takedown request. Three of the tweets were deleted, but later reinstated. The Electronic Frontier Foundation then sued Proctorio on behalf of Johnson, arguing that the removal “violated Johnson’s right to the First Amendment”.
Proctorio is one of the most prominent software platforms that schools use to look into remote testing cheating. It records students via their webcams as they work, monitors their head position and flags possible signs of cheating to professors.
The company has been embroiled in several public controversies since distance learning exploded in 2020. It is still embroiled in a legal spat with a tech specialist named Ian Linkletter who, like Johnson, posted a series of tweets in mid-2020 criticizing the platform, some of those unlisted YouTube videos, and screenshots from the website. Proctorio contained. In that case, Proctorio alleged that the tweets contained in it constituted the sharing of confidential information and copyright infringement. Linkletter has filed a petition to dismiss the lawsuit, which the court has not yet ruled on.
Amid the EFF lawsuit filed in the District of Arizona, Proctorio appears to be taking on another of his critics. Fight for the Future is not just a public critical from Proctorio and other third-party social media proctoring platforms, but it also has a website that tracks the colleges that use them and encourages students to take action in the opposition.
The subpoena requests FFTF to produce “all documents and communications” between itself and EFF, Erik Johnson and Ian Linkletter, as well as all documents related to the proctoring software industry.
Fight for the Future has filed a motion to quash the subpoena. The memo states that “FFTF is not a party to the Arizona lawsuit and indeed bears no meaningful connection to Johnson and Proctorio’s allegations.” It denounces the subpoena as part of an effort to intimidate and gain access to “the strategies of digital and human rights advocates who highlight the harm of Proctorio’s business practices.”
In a statement, FFTF wrote: “This subpoena amounts to a fishing expedition. It is a form of harassment clearly intended to silence critics of Proctorio and its CEO.” The group added that “Proctorio’s efforts to bully us through their legal team will not change our principled view that surveillance-based eproctoring is inherently harmful.”
This isn’t the first time Proctorio’s aggressive legal strategies have been challenged. A British Columbia court recently blocked the company from investigating Linkletter over its private communications related to its platform. Proctorio’s critics have hailed that ruling as a win, and Linkletter continues to freely criticize eproctoring software on Twitter.
Proctorio has not yet responded to a request for comment.