Our letter to gig economy companies about surveillance of their workers
To add your voice to our letter to gig economy companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Bolt, Amazon Flex, Just Eat, Free Now, and Ola, sign the Managed by Bots petition (PETITION IS NOW CLOSED)
To add your voice to the letter below, which we'll be sending to gig economy companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Bolt, Amazon Flex, Just Eat, Free Now, and Ola, sign the Managed by Bots petition. (PETITION IS NOW CLOSED, SEE UBER'S RESPONSE TO OUR CAMPAIGN LETTER. SEE DELIVEROO'S RESPONSE.
Worker Info Exchange (WIE), the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), Privacy International (PI) and other civil society organisations* are today writing to you with urgent questions about the exploitation of the workers who underpin the success and rapid growth of your innovative tech platform.
In the wake of WIE's recent 'Managed by Bots' report, we have launched a campaign to bring public attention to how workers within the gig economy are at the mercy of sophisticated but opaque algorithmic management.
Your company is at the bleeding edge of technological innovation in the rapidly growing gig economy, where in the UK alone at least one in ten people now work. So how your company develops and deploys technology matters not only because of the millions of people who already rely on companies like yours for their livelihoods, but also because you are setting the standard for how all of us might eventually work.
As machine learning, automation, algorithms and artificial intelligence further embed themselves into workplaces - whether your workplace is a bike, a car, a factory, an office, a building site or a school - you need to ensure people are protected. This isn't just about employment rights, it's also about our fundamental human rights and dignity at work. Sadly, as WIE's report and our video interviews show, you are falling short on this, sometimes in potentially damaging ways.
There seems to be a discrepancy in what data is collected from workers by your company and what data is shared by your company with them. As documented in WIE's report, workers need to resort to drafting complex and technical requests to retrieve their data.
Workers are entitled to protections from unfair automated decision making, including:
• to be provided with meaningful information about the existence of automated decision making including profiling;
• the right to contest such decisions and to give their point of view;
• the right to demand a human review of such decisions;
• the right to rectification of personal data used if it is incorrect.
Transparency and fairness in algorithmic management and automated decision making is key to preserving worker rights, and ensuring that bias and discrimination is not embedded in and amplified by automated decision making.
With this in mind, we want you to provide a considered response to the following questions:
1. Rights of Workers:
- What formal assurances can you provide that your workers and their chosen representatives will be able to easily secure access to the personal data which you process, as is their legal right to do?
- What measures have you taken to protect the rights and freedoms of your workers both in how you process their personal data and in automated decision making?
- What risks have you identified, how are they mitigated?
2. Meaningful Information on Automated Decision Making and Profiling:
- Please tell us what metrics, measures and variables you use to assess worker performance.
- Please provide us with meaningful information on if and how your workers are subjected to automated decision-making, including profiling, specifically for work allocation.
3. Human Reviews:
- Describe the process whereby workers can challenge automated decisions, give their point of view, and demand a human review?
- What are the job titles of the 'human reviewers' of automated decisions within your company?
- What training do they receive to perform the 'human reviews'?
- How can workers make contact with these individuals?
We're not looking for a response that argues you are 'GDPR-compliant'. We want a meaningful and human response to the questions we are raising. Ultimately, we want to see a future where cutting edge businesses like yours can continue to innovate, but without the rights and dignity of workers being a collateral cost to that innovation.
We would appreciate your prompt response.
Privacy International, Worker Info Exchange, the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU)
*Big Brother Watch
United Tech and Allied Workers (CWU)