British Uber drivers take company to court over secret algorithms

·1-min read

British drivers for ride-hailing company Uber are taking their employer to court in the Netherlands in order to access secret performance data the company collects on them.

According to the legal challenge the drivers say Uber determines how to allocate rides and fares based on information it generates about drivers' performance, behaviour and other personal traits it infers through the app they install on their phones.

They are demanding full access to this information and to details on how Uber's algorithms work, claiming that the it ultimately decides how much money they can earn.

"Uber should offer total transparency," lawyer Anton Ekker told Reuters at the District Court in Amsterdam, where Uber's international head office is located.

In response, Uber said it had shared all the information it was required to with its drivers, but that sharing any more could impact passengers' privacy.

"It's extremely dangerous for the privacy of passengers if we share all data about specific rides," said Uber's lawyer Axel Arnbak said.

"This is very sensitive information. For a driver, it simply says they went from A to B, but it tells much more about a passenger," Mr Arnbak added.

The company said that rides are primarily allocated based on driver locations, routes and fare preferences - and that drivers were excluded from giving rides to passengers who had previously given them the lowest possible rating.

However, it added that individual ratings, complaints and other feedback could not be shared with the drivers for privacy reasons.

The District Court in Amsterdam said it would make a decision on the claim by 11 Februrary 2021.