“Several” Uber drivers in the UK had their licenses revoked due to the AI technology.
Uber in the United Kingdom is now facing a class-action lawsuit over being “racist” in its verification tool used for drivers. Turns out, many of their drivers who are people of color lost their jobs after their AI-powered verification system failed to recognize their faces.
As Uber explained, they said that the verification is a must-process to make sure the safety of all their passengers.
Uber as “racist”?
On Wednesday, Oct. 6, Tech Crunch reported about the ride-hailing app Uber and its drivers in the UK. James Farrer, a former Uber driver turned into the general secretary of App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU), filed a complaint in court to accuse Uber of its bad treatment amongst their people of color drivers.
The said complaint alleges the company of discriminating against their drivers based on what their colors are. The union took place after the recent complaints of former Uber driver, Imran Javaid Raja, and a former Uber Eats courier, Pa Edrissa Manjang.
They explained that both of them lost their jobs in Uber after their AI verification system failed to recognize their facial features.
As said on the official Uber page, drivers whether on the ride-hailing app or food delivery need to submit a photo of themselves to verify their account on the app. Once done, that is the time that they can only use the app for services.
If the picture won’t work, the drivers and riders are required to take a full photo of their faces without masks. They said on their page that if the driver is having a problem with the verification system, they must contact Uber immediately.
Unfortunately, for the people of color drivers and riders, the cases are different.
Now, the ADCU wants to help Uber drivers to file a proper court complaint to the company in UK.
Tfl’s Letter to Drivers, Riders
The city’s transport regulator, TfL, reportedly sent this letter to the drivers, explaining why their drivers licenses’ must be pulled out.
“It is recognized that the failed checks did not occur on a private hire operator’s booking platform or while undertaking any bookings. It is also the case that there does not appear to have been any evidence to suggest that this type of behavior has taken place on the booking platform of a licenced private hire vehicle operator. However, the information that has been provided indicates that you have been seen to fail identification checks that have been conducted,” writes TfL with some particularly tortuous logic.
“This type of activity being identified on any platform does suggest a propensity to behave in the manner that has been alleged. When that is then considered in terms of a private hire driver, it does then have the potential to put the travelling public at risk.”
This letter was answered on the written complaint by the ADCU.
“Workers are prompted to provide a real-time selfie and face dismissal if the system fails to match the selfie with a stored reference photo,” the ADCU writes in a press release explaining how drivers experience Uber’s system. “In turn, private hire drivers who have been dismissed also faced automatic revocation of their private hire driver and vehicle licenses by Transport for London.”
So far, Farrer believed that their case could go the distance and make changes to Uber’s system. They also seek to help other drivers get proper treatment on such companies.