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The Gig Workers Taking Action to Regain Control of Their Data

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An Uber driver at work.

Ten Uber drivers have sued the company, demanding full access to their personal data and insight over the workings of the companys algorithms, in a case that lawyers say could improve labor conditions for millions of gig workers in Europe.

Credit: Dave Sanders/The New York Times

Complaints against ride-hailing company Uber bring the issue of gig workers' data rights into sharp relief, with researchers analyzing gig economy applications so workers can seek greater control over their own data.

Dutch privacy lawyer Anton Akker said, "They [Uber] process data, they can use data to track behavior, and drivers individually are very much dependent on Uber for their work."

Lawsuits say Uber profiles drivers under metrics like customer ratings and cancellations, fed into job-allocation algorithms; Uber driver Abdurzak Hadi said accessing this data is crucial to running their business, yet information requests on how Uber uses data collection under European data rules were unfruitful.

One lawsuit charged Uber with using algorithms to single-handedly decide dismissals, which Ekker said is banned under European law.

Scientists like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Dan Calacci are developing technology tools to analyze gig-economy apps' behavior on workers’ devices, so workers can make better decisions.

From Reuters
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