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COURT APPEAL: ADCU and Worker Info Exchange challenge Uber and Ola Cabs over data rights

Image credit: ADCU

Worker Info Exchange and the App Drivers and Courier Union (ADCU) are back in court in Amsterdam to appeal important points in an earlier ruling at the Amsterdam District Court in 2020.

The proceedings incorporate two separate actions against Uber and one against Ola Cabs, focusing heavily on driver data and how it is accessed.

James Farrar, Director of Worker Info Exchange, said: “Gig economy workers are facing unprecedented levels of surveillance and algorithmic control at work as companies like Uber and Ola Cabs increasingly rely on technology to conceal behind a digital curtain the true employment relationship. Even when workers try to build collective power by transferring their data to a data trust like Worker Info Exchange their efforts are frustrated by these platform companies.

“I am also concerned about gig employers using very sensitive surveillance and anti-fraud detection systems against a marginalised workforce without proper due process at the companies and where the workers are denied. If the UK government proceeds with planned UK GDPR reforms, gig workers will be more exposed to the risk of exploitation than ever before.”

Yaseen Aslam, President of ADCU, said: “Once again, low paid workers are forced to conduct international litigation against very powerful global platforms just to access the most basic of digital rights at work. It is shameful that companies like Uber and Ola are using algorithms to exploit people illegally at work with impunity. ADCU is committed to fighting for all driver rights – digital and employment.”

Anton Ekker, the lawyer representing the appellants, said: “This is an important case which tests the potency of GDPR rights for workers especially in the area of access and transparency rights as well as the right to protection from automated decision making including worker profiling.”

What exactly are the THREE actions being raised?

Uber: Data access and portability

  • Representatives will argue that sole purpose of data portability was not just to prevent a marketing ‘lock in’ and so workers too can access the electronic transfer of their data to a worker data trust such as Worker Info Exchange.

  • Worker Info Exchange and ADCU will also argue drivers should not remain caught in a chicken and egg problem of not being provided full access to data unless they can more closely specify the data they want.

  • The drivers are also appealing to be granted access to internal notes, tags and profiles maintained by Uber management about drivers.

  • While the lower court provided some extra transparency into star ratings assigned by passengers, the drivers are asking the court to provide full transparency to the individual rating provided for each trip.

  • The drivers are also demanding transparency as to how Uber calculates and assigns up front pricing for each trip. For each trip a passenger is guaranteed a fixed price for a trip regardless of how long the trip might take or even if a traffic diversion becomes. This means that the risk is placed on the driver if the time and distance is greater than anticipated by Uber’s algorithms. The drivers are therefore demanding access to this data to satisfy themselves that the upfront calculations assigned by Uber are reasonable and fair.

  • Finally, the drivers also have concerns that Uber still has not adequately explained what automated decision making they are subjected to including in the area of work allocation, performance management and dismissals.

Uber – automated dismissals

Three UK drivers and one Portuguese driver are appealing to the court that Uber’s decision to dismiss on the back of false allegations of fraudulent activity was indeed automated and lacked meaningful human intervention to ensure that the decisions taken were indeed correct.

Ola Cabs – data access and transparency

Three UK drivers are similarly appealing a lower court ruling on the grounds that they have not been provided adequate transparency.

  • The drivers say they have not been provided a full account of trip transaction data so that they may calculate and check fare calculations over time.

  • The drivers will argue that Ola’s failure to provide GPS data interferes with their ability to calculate and check time and distance fare calculations and to understand how and when they are tracked at work. The drivers will argue that access to this data does not unduly interfere with passenger privacy.

  • Similar to the Uber drivers, the appellants will argue that they have not been provided with adequate transparency into the ratings assigned to them by customers on a trip by trip basis.

  • The drivers will argue that they have not been provided with detailed device event data collected by Ola from the driver’s mobile devices.

  • Similar to the Uber drivers, the appellants argue that Ola has not provided adequate transparency into automated decision making they may be subjected to particularly in the area of work allocation, performance management and dismissals.


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