Uber has been hit with a lawsuit by two British drivers in a bid to reveal how the company’s algorithm works.
The headquarters for Uber in Europe is in Amsterdam, so the drivers have taken their case to a Dutch court.
Uber’s drivers want to know what data is being collected about them – and how it’s being used. The drivers are concerned that Uber’s algorithm isn’t entirely neutral in how it decides who to allocate rides to.
“They want to prove that Uber is in fact acting as an employer,” their lawyer, Anton Ekker, said to Dutch outlet NOS. “To do that, they need everything Uber knows about them and what Uber’s algorithms do with them.”
Uber’s algorithm not only decides which driver to allocate rides to, but also the fare charged. We all remember how Uber’s surge pricing kicked in following terror attacks through no fault of the drivers. In fact, many drivers provided rides for free to fleeing bystanders.
In a previous case against Uber by four British drivers, the judges ruled that the company is an employer. One of the drivers in that lawsuit, James Farrar – who no longer drives for Uber and started the App Drivers and Couriers Union – is helping with the latest case.
Farrar highlights that once he refused a ride because it was too far away. “There are penalties,” he said. Farrar believes he wasn’t allocated as many rides after because of his earlier decision.
How the Dutch court rules in this case may fundamentally change how Uber operates.
If Uber is ruled as an employer, it may mean the ride-sharing firm is forced to pay its drivers for all of their working hours – rather than just when they’re giving a lift.
The ruling from the Dutch court is expected later this week.