Charges for Uber Eats drivers over face scan bias case

Charges for Uber Eats drivers over face scan bias case

A black Uber Eats driver has been fined after “racially discriminatory” facial recognition checks prevented him from accessing the app to get work.

When Pa Edrissa Manjang started working for Uber Eats, in November 2019, the app didn’t often ask him to send a selfie to register for a job.

But the Microsoft-powered Uber Eats app improves these verification checks.

And in 2021, it said after “careful consideration” its account would be removed, due to “persistent non-compliance”.

‘Racial disturbance’
An Uber representative said: “Our real-time ID checks are designed to keep everyone using our app safe and include robust human checks to ensure we’re not making decisions about someone’s life in a vacuum, without oversight.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Union of Application Drivers and Couriers funded Mr. Manjang’s case.

The EHRC is concerned that artificial intelligence in facial recognition checks has deprived it of income.

ADCU said the number of selfies requested by Mr Manjang was racial harassment.

The union told BBC News it is “working hard” to ensure workers’ rights are protected as “the pace of development of AI and machine learning tools in the workplace accelerates”.

‘Opaque process’
Mr Manjang, who has been reinstated and continues to work for Uber Eats, in Oxfordshire, said the out-of-court settlement marked the end of a “long and difficult” period for him.

The case “highlights” the potential problems with AI, especially for “low-wage workers in the gig economy”.

And he hopes the ruling will help strengthen “the rights and protections of workers in relation to AI, particularly ethnic minorities”.

Baroness Falkner, who chairs the EHRC, said Mr Manjang should not have to sue Uber Eats to understand the opaque process affecting his work.

“We are very concerned that Mr. Manjang was not informed that his account was in the process of being deactivated, and did not provide any clear and effective path to challenge the technology,” he said.

Microsoft has previously admitted its facial recognition software works poorly for people belonging to ethnic minorities.

And previous cases, involving the police, the Home Office and universities, have shown ethnicity can affect technology.

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