Proctoring companies like Honorlock that track students’ keystrokes and cursor movements during exams to prevent cheating allegedly punish normal behaviour (Kashmir Hill/New York Times)

The Proctoring company HonorLock has used computer vision and artificial intelligence to develop software that uses eye tracking and keyboard usage to detect cheating during tests. According to their website, “students are tracked by their eyes while they are taking the exam. If their eyes dart away, they could be cheating. The company’s software can see these movements, identify the student, and alert the teacher. Honors is a software platform that takes the data generated from the technology and processes it for teachers. If a student is flagged for cheating, the system sends the information to the teacher for review.”

What is Proctoring companies like Honorlock?

Proctoring is a technique used to monitor students while they are engaged in online activities, such as playing video games or surfing the web. The proctors are not permitted to observe the student as they are doing the action but instead watch the screen while the student is doing the activity. In the case of the HonorLock tool, it tracks the student’s keystrokes and monitors their online activity in real-time. This is an example of the “eyes only” method of surveillance because it prevents the student from knowing if someone is watching them.

How do Proctoring companies work?

HonorLock, which recently raised $3.8 million in seed funding, is one of the leading providers of smartphone security apps. Proctoring is a behavioural change methodology incentivising people to act a certain way. It has proven very effective in promoting safe driving practices among teenagers. It has also encouraged students to attend class, participate in school activities, and complete homework assignments.

How Proctoring companies like Honorlock track students’ keystrokes and cursor movements during exams?

Proctoring companies like Honorlock that track students’ keystrokes and cursor movements during exams to prevent cheating allegedly punish normal behaviour. Students at Harvard University recently took to Reddit to complain about being forced to pay HonorLock $50 to access their test. “I feel like I’m being bullied,” said one of the students who claimed to have been charged. “I had to purchase an HonorLock and have my account frozen. My family had to endure a whole ordeal to take my exam.” The company’s policy is to “catch” potential cheaters by capturing screenshots of what they’re doing on their computers. But researchers at the University of Washington said those screenshots could also capture normal behaviours. The researchers found that if the students use programs like Google Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer, those programs can store screenshot files on the computer that will be saved to the user’s cloud storage account.


In conclusion, while Proctoring technology can help detect cheating, numerous issues with the system make it less than perfect. A Proctor that is not authorized and needs to provide proper guidance and supervision can lead to students being wrongly flagged as cheaters. A Proctor that needs to be properly trained and supervised can result in accurate data collection and reports and a lack of understanding of students’ legitimate behaviours. A Proctor that needs to communicate effectively and transparently with instructors and administrators can lead to false positives. While Proctoring technology can help detect cheating, it has been known to produce negative side effects when used incorrectly.


1. Do these companies work?

Yes, they work. They are called “keystroke loggers” because they record the keystrokes and movements of the computer’s keyboard and mouse. The software can detect plagiarism but can also be used for other reasons.

2. How do they work?

The companies that make these products place a small device on the computer. When the student uses the computer, the device records the keystrokes and mouse movements. The student can be notified if the software detects any suspicious activity.

3. Do these companies have to report their data to the government?

No, they do not.

4. Are these companies illegal?

No, they are not unlawful.

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