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University of Belize students launch petition against use of browser citing privacy violations

Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2020. 11:18 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Students of the University of Belize (UB) have launched an online petition against the usage of the Lockdown browser/ Respondus monitor.

According to the students, the University is requiring them to download the browser to be able to take their exams. The exams are scheduled to commence on November 30.

Students are claiming that the Respondus Lockdown Browser controls their personal devices including their camera, mic and browser. In addition, students say that the browser is a malware and has been known to cause permanent damage to the devices of some users.

The petition noted that the students are gravely concerned about the invasion of their privacy, virus vulnerability, hacking, internet accessibility, online predators, and the loss of technological devices with the use of the software.

“The use of a lockdown browser for online learning at home given its Webcam use is a huge invasion of privacy as both students and lecturers are in their private domain. The legal aspect of this browser and privacy issues must seriously be considered. The University of Belize must ensure that all legal issues are addressed and signed on to by both parties (Students/Faculty & UB) and that liabilities are clearly explained,” the petition noted.

Student advocate and former Director of Student Services at UB, Sharon Palacio is also advocating on behalf of students against the use of the browser for the conducting of exams.

An hour ago, UB issued a statement saying that there is ‘misinformation’ being circulated regarding the use of the Lockdown Browser.

“This software is utilized by thousands of institutions of higher learning to administer examinations. The new environment in which we are operating requires that we be vigilant in the supervision of our assessments. Note, that the use of the browser is not an invasion of privacy nor does it infringe on your rights as a student of our National University,” UB explained.

UB says that like many other Universities operating in the current environment it has taken the necessary measures, to ensure the security and integrity of its exams by instituting the Lock Down Browser.

The University also shared a link for students to view on how the program operates:

Introduction to Respondus LockDown Browser for Students – YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/embed/XuX8WoeAycs?feature=oembed)

“You will note from the overview that there are two different software used by Respondus for Examinations. One is the Lockdown Browser and the other is the Respondus Monitor. The University wishes to assure our students that we are not using the microphone or the camera to monitor our examinations, which is the Respondus Monitor,” UB noted.


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