Statement to Media
October 16 2020
My name is Ian Linkletter. I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My pronouns are he/him. Since 2011, I’ve worked in the Faculty of Education at The University of British Columbia (UBC). My position title is Learning Technology Specialist.
Today I have filed legal documents in the B.C. Supreme Court to defend myself against a lawsuit filed against me by a company called Proctorio Incorporated.
Proctorio sued me on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020. I found out when a reporter with the Vancouver Sun called me at work to ask me about the lawsuit. He told me ex parte court proceedings had taken place without me and I was under an injunction order.
Proctorio makes academic surveillance software. I call it “academic surveillance software” because that’s exactly what it does. It watches and records students as they take exams online. It uses secret algorithms to track so-called “abnormalities” and then reports the “suspicion level” for every student to their professor.
As colleges and universities move online during the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have been required to use this software. In dozens of petitions from around the world, students are saying that academic surveillance software is harmful. Students have very valid concerns and should be heard.
I have also been vocal in my criticism of Proctorio (https://www.twitter.com/Linkletter). In August, I wrote seven tweets with links to YouTube videos about Proctorio. When Proctorio disabled the videos, I wrote another tweet pointing out how they deleted them. For these eight tweets, Proctorio has sued me, claiming I infringed their copyright and distributed “confidential” material.
Proctorio’s lawsuit against me is groundless and brought for the sole purpose of silencing me. They claim breach of confidence for information that was already available to the public, and copyright infringement for linking to videos they put on YouTube.
This kind of lawsuit, in which a company like Proctorio sues an outspoken critic like me, is sometimes referred to as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation: or “SLAPP”. SLAPP lawsuits are a threat to freedom of expression. The Protection of Public Participation Act gives every British Columbian a streamlined legal process for getting these lawsuits dismissed.
That is what I am now set to do.
Fighting this lawsuit for over a month has cost me and my wife tens of thousands of dollars so far. I am all in and at peace with that decision. However, my legal costs continue to grow. I am launching a crowdfunding campaign to help with the balance: https://www.gofundme.com/f/stand-against-proctorio .
This has all been enormously stressful and exhausting. I have so much gratitude for everyone who has supported me – your messages, petitions, and advocacy have humbled me and kept me going. I am especially heartened by the open letter written by Brenna Clarke Gray (https://blog.communityofpraxis.ca/2020/09/03/in-defence-of-ian-linkletter/) and call to action that UBC students have launched against Proctorio and in support of me (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1117835S2RQkQN_-Ij8nZ2qEzCKgNWqle-O70nKdzpaA/edit?usp=sharing).
Thank you to the UBC Community for standing with me.
I am represented by Joe Arvay, Q.C. and John Trueman of Arvay Finlay, LLP. The legal documents they filed today in the B.C. Supreme Court are available at https://defence.linkletter.org. These documents provide a fulsome account of my defence to the lawsuit and my application to have it dismissed as a SLAPP case.
I can be contacted by members of the press via email at email@example.com. I am constrained by the terms of the ex parte injunction obtained by Proctorio so please read the documents we filed.