Dutch Student Challenges With The White Education In The Netherlands

A Dutch student, Robin Pocornie, is challenging the use of face detection software in exams, claiming it discriminates against people with darker skin tones. Pocornie had to use an Ikea lamp to light her face during online exams because the software kept saying it couldn’t recognise her. Pocornie believes this issue is widespread among students of colour. Her case against VU Amsterdam, the university she attended, is ongoing. An interim ruling from the Dutch Institute of Human Rights found that the software was discriminatory, and VU Amsterdam is expected to issue a defence. 

According to an article published by The Conversation: Whiteness is an invented concept that has been used as a tool of oppression, universities and schools impose white-centric curriculums and uniform policies that discriminate against Black pupils.

Meanwhile, another Dutch case in 2020 tried and failed to prove that exam-monitoring software violated the European Union’s privacy rules. Pocornie’s case is different because it focuses on what she describes as bias embedded in the software. “If [these systems] do not function as well for Black people in comparison to white people, that feels to us discriminatory,” says Naomi Appelman, a cofounder at the volunteer-run Racism and Technology Center who has helped Pocornie with her case. Pocornie’s legal case is still ongoing. In December, the Dutch Institute of Human Rights issued an interim ruling saying it strongly suspected that the software used by VU Amsterdam was discriminatory and giving the university 10 weeks to file its defence. That defence has not yet been made public, but VU Amsterdam has previously argued that Pocornie’s log data—showing how long she took to log into her exam and how many times she had to restart the software—imply her problems were due to an unstable internet connection, as opposed to issues with the face detection technology. A ruling is expected later this year. To hear more about the story of Pocornie check this link.