Canada

Cheating crackdown planned for boaters' internet exam

The Canadian Coast Guard is drafting a new boater competency exam with tougher security measures to prevent people who take it online from cheating.

The Canadian Coast Guard is drafting a new boater competency exam with tougher security measures to prevent people who take it online from cheating.

The improved exams will be available on the internet in January 2004.

The Canadian Coast Guard says pleasure boat operators have been issued about 700,000 competency cards since they were introduced a few years ago.

The coast guard estimates that as many as 10 per cent of those cards may have been fraudulently obtained.

The person writing the exam online must be supervised by a proctor, someone who is qualified to vouch for you on a passport. But some supervisors are suspected of taking the test on behalf of boaters.

A man who runs one of several Internet sites that offers both the course and the boater exam agrees that some people are getting the cards by cheating.

Thousands log on to Robert Dupel's site BoaterExam.com every month to take the exam. He says he knows the system isn't fool-proof.

"In 10,000 people a month, I guess there has to be some fraudulent activities going on," he says. "We're trying the best we can to eliminate it completely.

As for boaters who have already obtained their operating licences illegitimately, the coast guard says there's very little it can do. Those boaters will have their cards for life.

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