Delivery driver sues Uber Eats in London over ‘racist’ facial recognition software
Delivery man sues Uber Eats for racial discrimination over claims facial recognition software used to check in for service is ‘racist’ after he lost his job ‘because it couldn’t identify him’
- Pa Manjang claims he was fired by the app after a failed facial recognition check
- Black Workers’ Selfies Were Incorrectly Decided To Be Someone Else By The ID System
- He claims that automatic registration harms minority groups
An Uber Eats driver is suing the delivery service because the facial recognition app is ‘racist’.
Pa Manjang, who is black and moved to the UK from The Gambia in 2011, explained that drivers using the food delivery app have to take pictures every day to make sure they are the ones doing the delivery.
This photo is then matched with his original ID through an automated system, but Mr Manjang has claimed on multiple occasions that the software erroneously decided that his selfies belong to someone else and that they are “racially biased”.
He also says he was “asked several times a day to take pictures of myself” before being told in an email from Uber Eats in April 2021 that he had been permanently suspended for “sharing” his account after he died. failed a facial recognition check.
He said there is an “abundance of research” showing that facial recognition software “disadvantages ethnic minority groups because false-positive and false-negative results are greater in individuals from ethnic minority groups.”
Uber Eats, along with Uber London Ltd and Uber Portier BV, have tried to drop the case after the driver filed claims of harassment and racial discrimination in an employment court.
But an east London judge has now rejected their request and allowed the case to go ahead.
Pa Manjang said that on multiple occasions, the software erroneously concluded that his selfies belonged to someone else and that it was “racially biased.”
Mr Manjang, who is black and of African descent, said he was “asked several times a day to take pictures of myself” in the automated system to check his ID, which is then compared to his profile for not being recognized by the online system. Pictured: The photos uploaded to the system and compared to its original image
How does facial recognition software work?
Face Recognition uses software to compare two facial images to determine if they are similar.
The technology is used for a variety of purposes, from signing a user into their phone to searching for a specific person in a database of photos.
It uses computer-generated filters to convert facial images into numerical expressions that are then compared. By using artificial neural networks to process data, filters are generated using deep learning.
Facial recognition is used by Amazon, Deliveroo and Uber, among others, to verify the ID of their drivers and prevent fraud.
It requires drivers to take selfies while they are at work and then compare them to their account photo so the company can ensure that the delivery drivers are the employee logged into their apps.
London-based courier Manjang started working for Uber Eats in November 2019.
In April 2020, Uber introduced an automated system to check the ID of drivers that requires them to take a selfie and then compare it to the one on their profile.
Mr Manjang, whose case is supported by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the App Drivers & Couriers Union, told Uber Eats: “Your algorithm is racist on the face of it and this needs to be addressed because it can’t recognize and verify my algorithm. , that’s why I’m probably asked several times a day to take pictures of myself.’
He also states that “the discriminatory impact of the facial recognition process is so great that major organizations, including Amazon, IBM and Axon, have reviewed their practices.”
Mr Manjang also complained about the way his requests for a human review of his photos were handled by Uber Eats.
Uber Eats admitted that there were “unfortunate flaws” in the way his layoff and communications were handled and that the proper reasons for deactivating his account were not given to him at the time.
Uber Eats then said it had deactivated its account due to “unusual activity,” suggesting more than one person was trying to sign in.
The delivery company said its account had been reviewed and that the account was reinstated six months later, in September 2021 – after Mr Manjang took legal action.
Mr Manjang also accuses Uber Eats of subsequently making conflicting statements about his dismissal and being “clandestine” about his recovery six months later after taking legal action.
His lawyer said his treatment felt “Kafkaesque,” referring to the celebrated 20th-century novelist Franz Kafka whose stories often depicted people faced with bizarre predicaments and bureaucratic powers.
At the tribunal, Uber Eats tried to argue that Mr Manjang’s case “had no reasonable chance of success” and tried to take Uber London out of the proceedings.
How the Uber Eats application works by asking you to upload a submission and compare it to a base photo you created your account with
But labor judge Alison Frazer denied the applications, saying the evidence needs to be reviewed.
Judge Frazer said: “This is a case of racial discrimination that will necessarily be fact-sensitive and evidence-dependent.
“Given Mr Manjang’s alleged lack of clarity about the reasons for the deactivation process, it would be necessary for full disclosure on this matter before any determination of the claims can be made.
“Under the circumstances I do not think I can say that the claims have little or no reasonable chance of success and for that reason I am not ordering cancellation or payment in this case.”
It now moves to a full hearing.