Examples of algorithmic management abuses

Companies are increasingly tracking their workers and deploying unaccountable algorithms to make major employment decisions over which workers have little or no control or understanding.

While gig economy workers, content creators and warehouse operatives are at the sharp end of the algorithmic black-box, opaque and intrusive surveillance practices are embedding themselves across many industries and workplaces.

We are monitoring and recording these developments across the world so that we can catalogue harms, identify trends, and help workers know what is happening with their information.

You can learn more about our work on algorithmic management and workplace surveillance here.

09 Nov 2023
Content moderators working in the south Asian IT hub Hyderabad say their work reviewing still and video images of sexual and violent content is straining their mental health. Paid less than £8 a day, the moderators say the wellness coaches the company supplies do little beyond moving them to a less
02 Oct 2023
A survey commissioned by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office finds that a fifth of UK adults believe they have been monitored by an employer. Timekeeping and access were most commonly tracked, followed by emails, files, calls, or messages. Seventy percent said they would find such monitoring
19 Sep 2023
Four French trade unions representing drivers signed an agreement with ride-hailing platforms to provide drivers with a minimum income and provide greater transparency regarding suspending and terminating drivers. Platforms must now give drivers a chance to respond before deactivating their accounts
26 Jul 2023
Human raters have played a significant role in the rapid improvement in the machine learning models that fuel modern AI. The raters evaluate the algorithmic output of search engines and AI chatbots and provide "Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback" (RLHF) – the technical name for the
23 Jul 2023
The rise of hybrid work has led to a rise in "bossware": increasingly intrusive technology that monitors employees, tracks their locations, and watches or listens to office workers via cameras and microphones. 90% of such systems can give employers a list of everything a worker has done that day
17 Jul 2023
Numerous video clips from Amazon's in-van driver-facing surveillance cameras are appearing on Reddit in violence of Amazon's stated privacy policies and raising questions about drivers' privacy. The videos are clearly not being posted by drivers themselves, but come from inside Amazon delivery
14 Jul 2023
Four people in Kenya have filed a petition calling on the government to investigate conditions for contractors reviewing the content used to train large language models such as OpenAI's ChatGPT. They allege that these are exploitative and have left some former contractors traumatized. The petition
11 Jul 2023
Outsourced artists, designers, copywriters, software developers, and call centre operators in the global south are the first to feel the effects of the arrival of generative AI, as client companies see the new technology as a way of cutting costs. Some workers are adding prompt engineering to their
20 Jun 2023
Behind every powerful AI system are huge numbers of people labelling and clarifying data to train it, contracted by companies like Remotasks, a subsidiary of Silicon Valley-based data vendor Scale AI, whose customers include the US military and OpenAI. Often the workers, who are assigned tasks they
30 May 2023
Employees monitored by monitoring tools such as Hubstaff, CleverControl, and FlexiSPY report that the software takes a screenshot every ten minutes and calculate an activity score based on how they type and move their mouse. Aware that employers are looking at these scores, employees pause the
01 May 2023
More than 150 workers employed by third-party outsourcing companies to provide content moderation for AI tools on Facebook, TikTok, and ChatGPT depend have pledged to create the African Content Moderators Union. The move to create such a union began in 2019 when the outsourcing company Sama fired
22 Apr 2023
A new report from Worker Info Exchange finds that drivers working for Just Eat have had their accounts abruptly de-activated by automated systems for alleged overpayments as small as £1.35, which many are contesting. Just Eat says that the overpayments were triggered because drivers had incorrectly
04 Apr 2023
In two cases brought by Worker Info Exchange and the App Drivers and Couriers Union on behalf of drivers, the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam has upheld a 2021 ruling in a lower court that under the GDPR Uber and Ola Cabs must disclose the personal information and profiling that the companies use to
19 Jan 2023
An eight-country study of Amazon employees has found that 57% say the company's performance monitoring system damages their mental health, 51% (65.7% of drivers) say it's had a negative effect on their physical health, and 59% feel the monitoring is excessive. In addition, 58% say Amazon doesn't
21 Nov 2022
Humans who review footage of warehouse workers flagged by Amazon’s AI computer vision system to check for employee errors - are themselves surveilled in detail to ensure they make punishing targets. The workers, who are paid as little as £212 a month to review thousands of images and videos per day
14 Nov 2022
Drivers for app-based companies like Uber, tired of their lack of transparency, share their experience and swap tips to help each other game the platforms to their advantage via in-person workshops and Telegram groups, aided by the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers and the Telangana
10 Oct 2022
Technology companies that call themselves "AI first" rely on heavily surveilled gig workers who label data, deliver packages, moderate content, and perform gig work via platforms. Startups pressured by their venture capital funders even hire humans to pretend to be chatbots so they can claim to be
02 Jun 2022
Documents filed with the US National Labor Relations Board show that Amazon issues warehouse workers with radio-frequency handheld scanners to track and record every minute of "time off task". The filing is part of a dispute at the State Island Amazon warehouse, where workers voted to unionise in
02 Jun 2022
Workers in Amazon warehouses are tracked closely by a system that records every minute of "time off task" via the radio frequency handheld scanners workers use to track customer packages. Breaching strict time off task time limits can get an employee fired. Time off task includes bathroom breaks
27 May 2022
JP Morgan Chase's hundreds of thousands of employees are monitored in detail throughout their working day with the collected data sent to the data management system Workforce Activity Data Utility, which the company began building shortly before the coronavirus pandemic started. Some employees say
24 May 2022
A former Amazon warehouse worker writes that every day was "brutal" because of the "exploitative and dangerous" standards enforced by Amazon executives. Amazon's anxiety-inducing policies about bathroom use and low pay should be seen in context with fast food and retail workers, who frequently
12 Nov 2021
A 24-year-old man in Atlanta, Georgia is suing Amazon after being left with extensive brain and spinal cord injuries after an Amazon van crashed into his car. Amazon claims it isn't legally liable because the driver worked for the delivery company Harper Logistics LLC. However, the lawsuit seeks to
08 Oct 2021
In a legal action, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain and the App Drivers and Couriers Union claim that Uber's use of facial recognition software for its Real-Time ID Check to verify the identity of drivers is discriminatory because facial recognition software is known to be less
20 Sep 2021
AI-powered cameras made by the startup Netradyne and used in Amazon's delivery vans incorrectly penalises drivers for events beyond their control or which do not constitute unsafe driving such as if they are cut off by another vehicle. The data collected by the cameras is sent to Amazon, which uses
11 Sep 2021
An excerpt from the new book "Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door—Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy", describes in detail the tracking systems used in Amazon warehouses to ensure workers meet their managers' targets. The system is a mix of surveillance, measurement
06 May 2021
Amazon delivery partner companies are ordering their drivers to turn off Amazon's Mentor monitoring app so they can take more risks in order to hit Amazon's delivery targets. Mentor, made by a company called eDriving, is a smartphone app Amazon uses to monitor drivers in Amazon-branded vans that
27 Apr 2021
Delivery drivers in Jakarta use GPS-spoofing apps in order to improve their chances of selection by the Gojek delivery and transport app, an equivalent to Apple Pay, Postmates, Venmo, and Uber all in one. Gojek that operates in more than 200 cities in Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand
26 Mar 2021
The call centre company Teleperformance, which employs about 380,000 people in 34 countries providing customer service for dozens of major UK companies and government departments, has told some non-UK staff that AI-powered webcams will be installed in their homes to watch for infractions of company
12 Feb 2021
Amazon has begun issuing partner delivery companies with AI-enabled cameras to monitor and track drivers' behaviour on the road. The cameras add another layer of monitoring to existing requirements to run the smartphone app Mentor; drivers complain that the app's bugs lead to unfair disciplinary
27 Oct 2020
Despite being a subscription service that doesn't depend on advertising revenue, Slack (owned by Salesforce) collects a large amount of data on the people who use its system, including details provided voluntarily at sign-up, when and how people use the platform, and information about third-party
12 Jun 2020
A large-scale preprint study of more than 100 million rides between 2018 and 2019 in Chicago, where a 2020 law requires ride-hailing apps to disclose fares, finds that the dynamic pricing algorithms used by ride-hailing companies such as Lyft, Uber, and Via are socially biased. The finding is in
02 Apr 2017
In 2017, Uber began a programme experimenting with using psychology and social science insights to influence when, where, and how long its drivers work. Among other techniques, Uber auto-loaded the next fare to encourage the driver equivalent of binge TV-watching; reminded drivers when they're close
01 Sep 2016
Automated systems such as the personality test developed by Massachusetts-based workforce management company Kronos are increasingly used by large companies to screen job applicants. To avoid falling foul of regulations prohibiting discrimination against those with mental illness, often the
08 Oct 2014
In the 2014 report "Networked Employment Discrimination", the Future of Work Project studied data-driven hiring systems, which often rely on data prospective employees have no idea may be used, such as the results of Google searches, and other stray personal data scattered online. In addition
25 Nov 2013
A BBC Panorama investigation that brought hidden cameras into a UK-based Amazon warehouse found that workers walked up to 11 miles in a shift and had just 33 seconds on average to find each product, following instructions from a handset. Experts on stress at work say the warehouse conditions are
The San Francisco-based company Emotiv claims its MN8 electroencephalography device can be worn comfortably for a full workday. The device monitors an employee's brainwaves with the goal of creating safer, more efficient workplaces by monitoring workers' brain signals for signs of stress or