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Union battles Uber over face-technology system
Uber car in London Pic: Shutterstock

11 Oct 2021 / employment Print

Union battles Uber over face-technology system

A British trade union has taken legal action against taxi-hailing platform Uber over the facial-recognition system the firm uses to identify drivers.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) accuses Uber of discrimination, claiming that the algorithm used in the technology is five times more likely to cause the dismissal of darker-skinned workers.

The union says that “hundreds” of Uber’s drivers and couriers have lost their livelihoods, without any due process or evidence of alleged wrongdoing.

‘Robust human review’

The IWGB has also filed a claim for indirect racial discrimination against Uber on behalf of one of its members, saying that the driver’s account was terminated following a facial-recognition error.

In a statement to the BBC, Uber said that it protected the "safety and security of everyone who uses the Uber app by helping ensure the correct driver is behind the wheel".

"The system includes robust human review, to make sure that this algorithm is not making decisions about someone's livelihood in a vacuum, without oversight", the firm added.

Concerns have often been expressed about the potential for bias in facial-recognition technology. A 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that tools from Microsoft, Amazon and IBM were not 100% accurate when it came to recognising men and women with dark skin.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland