Uber ID algorithm suspends transgender drivers

Occurred: August 2018

Transgender drivers working for Uber in the USA reported having their accounts temporarily or permanently suspended due to problems with the company's identity verification system. 

Introduced in 2016, Uber's Real-time ID Check aims to 'protect both riders and drivers' by comparing drivers' selfies taken while working with photographs on file, temporarily suspending the accounts of those that do not match.

However, as illustrated by the experiences of drivers Janey Webb and 'Lindsay', the system failed to take into account the changes in physical appearance that come when people transition gender, forcing them travel lengthly distances to Uber support centres, and to miss work.

Operator: Uber
Developer: Microsoft

Country: USA

Sector: Transport/logistics

Purpose: Verify identity

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - sexual preference (LGBTQ); Employment - pay, jobs

Transparency: Governance; Black box; Complaints/appeals

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: September 2023
Last updated: November 2023