Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Uber and Ola Cabs are set to go to court in Amsterdam today in an effort to defeat a claim brought under the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) by 13 UK drivers with the support of the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) together with Worker Info Exchange.
In separate proceedings, the drivers and couriers argue that Uber and Ola have denied them proper access to their personal data and to appropriate transparency of the algorithmic management decision making they have been subjected to.
According to the ADCU, Workers Info Exchange and its legal team, the drivers are claiming:
Uber and Ola have deliberately frustrated access rights through the use of lengthy and convoluted request processes often resulting in little or no data being provided in the end
In the case of Uber, the firm committed a data breach by providing the personal data of one claimant driver to another claimant driver
Ola maintains a ‘fraud probability score’ for every driver but refuses to disclose this to claimants or explain how it is calculated
Both firms maintain secret worker performance profiles but they have failed to disclose or explain themselves.
Neither firms have provided legally required transparency into automated management decisions relating to work allocation, dismissals and other functions.
James Farrar, Director of Worker Info Exchange, said: “This landmark case will help level the playing field with platform companies by putting the power of data in the hands of gig workers and by exposing hidden algorithmic management controls. Uber and Ola’s extreme reaction against worker data trusts is telling but the aggregation of personal work data by trade unions for the purposes of building collective bargaining power is an inevitable next step in the evolution of the gig economy.”
Yaseen Aslam, President of App Drivers & Couriers Union, said: “Uber and Ola are fighting tooth and nail to maintain the status quo where drivers are kept disempowered and in the dark. It is bad enough that these firms have failed to obey employment law but now they are working harder than ever to hide their sins in a mountain of inaccessible data and a tangle of algorithmic controls.”
Anton Ekker, the lawyer representing the drivers and couriers, said: “Uber’s opposition to transparency cannot arise from a lack of technical knowledge or financial resources. Uber uses artificial intelligence and algorithms in all its business processes and invests enormous amounts in research and development. Yet, in practice, drivers and couriers encounter major obstacles when making access requests. Again and again they do not receive the data they have asked for and to which they are entitled.”