OLA has got into trouble in the Netherlands as a case backed by App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU), the International Alliance of App-based Transport Workers (IAATW) and Worker Info Exchange, has been filed by two private drivers against the cab aggregator company for denying drivers’ data access rights and unfair algorithmic management.
ADCU is working with the Worker Info Exchange to introduce a data trust for drivers for the purpose of collective bargaining. The drivers demand that their data be transferred to the data trusts of their respective unions, alleging that the company has not provided all the required data, such as date-stamped GPS data, and refers to European data access rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Yaseen Aslam, president of ADCU said, ” Ola could choose to use its technology for good to ensure drivers are well paid, protected and treated with dignity at work. Instead, Ola has taken advantage of its position of platform power to exploit and impoverish its workforce. It’s time for drivers to take back control and build collective power. The first step is to demand access to their own data at work”.
Additionally, the drivers also complained of not receiving rating data at the trip level, which prevents them from challenging discriminatory ratings.
The drivers also voice their opinion against OLA’s data protection policy. An ADCU spokesperson said, “Ola give tantalizing detail on the level of surveillance and control over workers. Fraud probability scores for drivers for example. Admit that performance factors go into dispatch decision”. They allege that the company classifies the drivers as ‘self-employed’ which denies them of basic worker rights.
A driver reports that once OLA’s algorithms determined his trips to be invalid, which resulted in him not receiving his share of pay. After raising this issue to the company, OLA said the process is automated and could not be challenged.
The ADCU in a press release says that the company had launched a new safety feature called ‘Guardian’ this year in London, which uses machine learning to process millions of data to “automatically detect irregular trip activity”. The press release says, “(Ola) provided no information on the driver personal data processed in such risk profiling despite disclosing that it calculates a ‘fraud probability score’ for each driver”.
James Farrar, Director of Worker Info Exchange said that Ola drivers endure intensive surveillance at work, yet are denied access to their own personal data on the platform and to basic transparency as to how they are performance managed by algorithm. “Workers in the so-called gig economy face a bleak and dystopian future unless firms like Ola are forced to obey the law and respect the digital rights of its workforce,” he said.
The drivers asked the court in Amsterdam to take action on OLA for not complying with the data protection law and fine the company 2000 Euros for each day the company stays out of the court’s order.
OLA was facing similar allegations earlier this year at its home in India as drivers complained that the company’s algorithm-based fare determination system was unfair and unjust.