Contents:

5 min read

    5 min read

    It’s been a busy week in rideshare and delivery news, from Uber lawsuits to Instacart data breaches. Senior RSG contributor John Ince covers the latest below.

    UK Uber drivers are taking the algorithm to court [Techcrunch]

    Sum and Substance: A group of UK Uber drivers has launched a legal challenge against the company’s subsidiary in the Netherlands. The complaints relate to access to personal data and algorithmic accountability.

    doordash

    Uber drivers and Uber Eats couriers are being invited to join the challenge which targets Uber’s use of profiling and data-fuelled algorithms to manage gig workers in Europe. Platform workers involved in the case are also seeking to exercise a broader suite of data access rights baked into EU data protection law.

    It looks like a fascinating test of how far existing legal protections wrap around automated decisions at a time when regional lawmakers are busy drawing up a risk-based framework for regulating applications of artificial intelligence.

    My Take:  This is a whole new area of the law. Where it’s going to take Uber is anybody’s guess. But this business is getting very complicated.

    What it’s like being an Uber driver during the COVID-19 pandemic [KVUE.com]

    Sum and Substance: AUSTIN, Texas — It’s not just local business owners that have been struggling with compliance when it comes to getting customers to wear masks, but Uber drivers are facing a similar challenge. …

    Some drivers, like Antron Cobb, said they’ve had riders who have removed their mask mid-drive and refused to put it back on.

    “I just ask that all riders, and even the drivers follow safety protocol,” said Cobb. “It’s the only way we’re going to get back to normal with our ride shares, and picking up people and everything and being safe and feeling comfortable about it.”

    My Take:  A Facebook group gives some idea what it like driving these days.  If someone takes a mask off mid-ride, what do you do?

    Opinion: The Shameful “Black Lives” Hypocrisy of Uber, Lyft and Other Gig Companies [SDVoice]

    Sum and Substance:  To executives at Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, and other gig companies:

    We are the workers who power the core of your businesses and we write in response to your recent comments on the Black Lives Matter movement. Your statements have included various platitudes about your commitment to racial justice and the Black community. We are not fooled. Your lip service in support of Black Lives is hollow, created by well-paid public relations teams, and absent of any promise of real change.

    My Take:  The letter speaks for itself.  It’s strong and it’s well-timed.  Let’s hope Uber (and other gig companies) take it to heart – and do something.

    Uber Eats to Waive Restaurant Fees for the Rest of 2020  [Nasdaq]

    Sum and Substance:  Uber Technologies (NYSE: UBER) will allow restaurants to add online ordering to their websites, for delivery through Uber Eats, at no cost for the rest of the year.

    The food delivery specialist said the coronavirus pandemic has given it a new understanding of the importance that delivery has in the restaurant industry’s survival. But the third-party delivery market is also becoming much more intensely competitive and undergoing consolidation, and commission-free placement could give it an edge.

    In a blog post on the company’s website, Uber Eats said it commissioned the industry researchers at Technomic to discover what restaurants think about Uber Eats, third-party delivery generally, and what the company could do differently.

    Some 400 restaurant partners in the U.S. and Canada were surveyed, and most view delivery as an lifeline for survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. …

    My Take:  This is one way to get business. It’s the old “build a market strategy.’ But what about profits? I guess Uber figures that this is a market they can win.

    Uber Braces for UK Legal Battles that Could End Its Reign in London [Insurance Journal]

    Sum and Substance:  Uber Technologies Inc. is bracing for a long summer of legal battles that could see the end of its reign in London and entitle its drivers to a long list of workers’ rights.

    A dispute over whether its drivers should continue to be classified as self-employed begins Tuesday at the U.K.’s Supreme Court. In a second legal clash scheduled for September, Uber will appeal the loss of its operating license in the capital, its biggest European market.

    My Take:  Not sure how this will play out.  On the surface, things don’t look good for Uber in London.  But they’ve been here before, and they’re still driving around London.

    The appeals can take so long that by the time a decision is made, there are totally different circumstances.

    Uber drivers say the company is taking hundreds of dollars from their paychecks to pay airport-issued tickets the drivers didn’t know existed [Business Insider]

    Sum and Substance: An Uber driver picks up passengers a day after Uber Technologies, Inc. cut 3,000 jobs as their business has been gutted by the coronavirus at Los Angeles International Airport on May 19, 2020.

    My Take:  We’ve heard about this for some time.  It’s good to see that an issue has been made of it.  Hopefully it will get corrected or at least has some kind of due process.

    Read more about this story and our analysis here.

    Hundreds Of Thousands Of Instacart Customers’ Personal Data Is Being Sold Online [Biuzzfeed]

    Sum and Substance:  The personal information of what could be hundreds of thousands of Instacart customers is being sold on the dark web. This data includes names, the last four digits of credit card numbers, and order histories, and appears to have affected customers who used the grocery delivery service as recently as yesterday.

    As of Wednesday, sellers in two dark web stores were offering information from what appeared to be 278,531 accounts, although some of those may be duplicates or not genuine. As of April, Instacart had “millions of customers across the US and Canada,” according to a company spokesperson.

    My Take:  This is a disturbing development. Don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but the information we have doesn’t look good for Instacart.

    Readers, what do you think of this week’s roundup?

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    -John @ RSG

    John Ince

    John Ince

    John Ince is a former Fortune reporter and Wall Street banker. He has about 1,000 rides under his belt driving part time for Uber and Lyft.  He’s writing a book about his experiences entitled:  Travels With Vanessa:  A Rideshare Driver Tries To Make Sense of It all - For a sneak peak visit the link above.