“Plaintiffs allege Respondus violated BIPA by, among other things, collecting, capturing, using, storing, and sharing Plaintiffs’ and class members’ biometric identifiers or biometric information without informed written consent,” the lawsuit alleges. “Respondus violated BIPA’s requirement that it maintain, disclose, and follow a retention policy that requires Respondus to permanently destroy students’ biometric data once the purpose for collecting such data has been satisfied.”
The suit scathes that while Respondus prides itself as a “pioneer of online testing applications,” the company’s software, which has spiked in use given the prevalence of remote test-taking amid the pandemic, serves as no more than a sophisticated digital surveillance tool for third parties, such as schools, who wish to monitor high school and college test takers. The defendant’s flagship tool, the Respondus Monitor, “captures, uses, and stores vast amounts of data, including facial recognition data, facial detection data, recorded patterns of keystrokes, eye monitoring data, gaze monitoring data, and camera and microphone recordings” as a means to keep tabs on students taking online exams at home, according to the lawsuit.
Per the suit, students generally have no choice but to use Respondus Monitor if it’s the tool their academic institution has selected to automatically proctor tests. The case says “virtually all” students required to use Respondus’ proctoring system download the software on their personal devices.
As its prevalence has increased amid the pandemic when many schools were forced to shift to online learning, the Respondus Monitor software has drawn criticism from students and faculty nationwide and is the subject of at least two other proposed class action cases that allege those forced to use the software while taking exams have been exposed to potentially irreparable privacy harms, identity theft or other problems arising from the capture and storage of their biometric data.
The lawsuit aims to represent anyone who took an assessment using Respondus Monitor in Illinois at any time within the last five years until January 20, 2021.
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