Uber Drivers in GDPR Fight to Unmask Algorithms

Two Uber drivers are taking the platform to court, arguing that it has failed to meet its GDPR obligations to reveal detailed profiling data about them and how it is used, according to reports.

The case will be launched today by the UK-based App Drivers and Couriers Union in the district court in Amsterdam, where the ride hailing giant’s European operations are headquartered.

The drivers, also based in the UK, want to know how the data and algorithms are used by the firm to make silent automated decisions about their jobs.

It is argued that only with greater transparency can gig economy workers like these challenge potential workplace discrimination and unfair treatment, and exercise important powers of collective bargaining over work and pay.

The kind of data they’re after includes information on any inappropriate driver behavior, late arrivals or missed ETAs, driver cancellations and other info on reliability, behavior and location, according to The Guardian.

“This is about the distribution of power. It’s about Uber exerting control through data and automated decision-making and how it is blocking access to that,” the drivers’ lawyer, Anton Ekker, is quoted as saying.

“The app decides millions of times a day who is going to get what ride: who gets the nice rides; who gets the short rides, but this is not just about Uber. The problem is everywhere. Algorithms and data give a lot of control but the people who are subject to it are often no longer aware of it.”

Uber argued in a statement that it works hard to provide personal data to individuals who request it, but that sometimes it either doesn’t exist or disclosing it would infringe the privacy rights of others.

“Under the law, individuals have the right to escalate their concerns by contacting Uber’s data protection officer or their national data protection authority for additional review,” it added.

Concerns have been raised in the past that national data protection authorities don’t have the in-house technical expertise or legal resources to challenge major tech companies with investigations.

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