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Private hire firms could be in breach of data protection regulations warns Scottish union boss


Image credit : ADCU/Pixabay remixed

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) in Scotland has fired a warning shot to private hire firms while cautioning them that they could be in breach of data protection regulations. The Chair of the Glasgow branch of ADCU, Eddie Grice, said: “Firms using automated decision-making processes to punish their drivers are in breach of Article 22 of GDPR.


“There are countless firms out there in the private hire trade that enforce rules on their drivers and when those rules are not followed to the letter then the app-based dispatch systems will block the drivers' access to the system for a certain period of time. This practice is commonly known as 'sin binning', and any firm using such an automated tactic is in serious breach of the data regulations.“

Article 22 of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) gives people the right not to be subject to solely automated decisions which have a legal or similarly significant effect on them. Mr Grice argues that the automatic logging-off of drivers and the subsequent time limit imposed before they can log back on again is a breach of this regulation.


He said: “Drivers are being frequently denied access to dispatch systems, and ultimately denied the ability to work, as a result of not sticking rigidly to the rules set by their employers and in many cases they can be logged out for hours at a time. A common occurrence is when drivers are given a ban of an hour or two for rejecting a job and returning the job for re-dispatch.

“If those punishments are being handed out automatically by the system without any human involvement in the decision-making process then Article 22 has breached. Private hire firms up and down the country are in flagrant breach of this every single time their computer systems automatically log a driver off – There are widespread GDPR breaches across the entire industry.”


He adds that the software providers are also part of the problem: “Systems such as Autocab and iCabbi are providing the ability for firms to be able to do this. These 'ghost' systems are designed and coded in such a way that gives private hire operators and booking offices the option to use these automated punishments. The software firms behind these systems need to realise that they are contributing to the long standing and continued assault on workers rights in this trade by providing Machiavellian tools to firms that allow them to robo-punish their workforce.


“The whole industry needs to wake up, and wake up fast, to the fact that the law is not on their side and that drivers are rising up to challenge abuses to their worker rights. Firms that exercise significant levels of control over their drivers are in breach of employment law and firms that use automated punishments are in breach of GDPR Article 22. Private Hire firms simply must ensure that they are compliant with the law and cease from thinking that this stuff doesn't apply to them. They need to wake up and embrace the new paradigm that is coming before it is forced upon them – and our union will fight to make sure that firms live up to all of their legal obligations.”

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