In a recent attempt to combat cheating at written exams, the Danish Ministry of Education recently developed a national surveillance system to be installed on private school students’ computers. However, after a failed test of the system, the Ministry withdrew the program and decided to instead support high schools’ in the use of private surveillance systems for the upcoming exams until the national surveillance system has been finished properly.

The program keeps track of students’ activity during their exams in multiple ways. The main feature is a screenshot which is taken once every half minute, as well as whenever windows are changed. Additionally, the program registers all visited websites, all ongoing processes and has a key logger. All of this data is then sent to an Amazon data-centre outside of Denmark, where it is stored for four months or up to a year if the student is suspected of cheating. The program is only supposed to be running during the exam, but cases of screenshots taken at other times have been reported.

The National Federation of Business Students in Denmark (LH), The Danish Vocational And Technical School Students Union (EEO) and The Danish Union of Upper Secondary School Students (DGS) have been very vocal about their concerns about the programs’ function, and the grounds of its use. The program is seen as a drop in the sea of recent decrees and laws that seek to question the accountability of students in Denmark.

The Ministry of Education is trying to spread a narrative claiming that a vast majority of students are cheating at their written exams, despite statistics show that only 0.1% of written exams taken in 2017 were suspected of foul play by Exam Invigilators. Apart from this excessive use of force, the program has several technical issues. It has been cracked by Danish students to show its flaws, and a leading Danish security expert has shared his mistrust of the program, saying that he would be afraid of having it on his computer. Additionally, the storage of data and the responsibility for its protection is very unclear. Either way, the data ends up stored by Amazon in Ireland, which also means that it is under the American CLOUD-act, and as thus can be subject to an inquiry by an American warrant.

If you would like to express somehow your support to Danish Student Unions in their fight against mass surveillance of school students, please contact them at malte@dgsnet.dk