Uber Real-Time ID Check
Uber's 'Real-Time ID Check' system enables the ridehail company to check that a driver’s face matches what the company has on file in order to minimise fraud, increase security, and manage its workforce.
Developed by Microsoft, Real-Time ID Check was rolled out by Uber in the US in 2016, India in 2017, the UK in 2020, and other markets.
Real-Time ID Check has been praised as a quick, effective means of verifying driver identity. However, it has also suffered criticism for misidentifications which can result in loss of pay and jobs, discrimination, and abuse of privacy.
August 2018: CNBC revealed transgender drivers in the US were being kicked off the Uber app as it seemingly struggled with selfies of people gender transitioning.
March 2021: A WIRED investigation revealed BAME couriers working for Uber Eats in the UK had been threatened with losing their jobs, had accounts frozen, or were permanently fired due to 'racist' software that is incapable of recognising their faces. Workers said they had little or no ability to appeal, and that those that were able to make their case were summarily rejected.
May 2021: False mismatches by Uber Eats' 'racist' facial identification system resulted in the wrongful dismissal of delivery driver Pa Edrissa Manjang and Imran Javaid Raja, a former Uber private hire driver, according to a lawsuit filed by The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) in the UK.
December 2022: The Technology Review reported that many Indian drivers were being locked out of their accounts due to factors such as facial hair, shaved heads, changed haircuts, and scratches on their device cameras, costing them work and, in some instances, their jobs.
December 2022: A judge ruled that Uber drivers were permitted to proceed in a class action against Microsoft on the basis that it had failed to obtain proper consent to capture and store driver faceprints under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
In March 2021, a group of Uber drivers from the UK and Portugal won a lawsuit in Amsterdam against Uber and competitor Ola in which the two companies were forced to reveal more about how their driver surveillance systems work, in addition to how their systems assign work, deduct earnings, and suspend drivers.
Uber (2017). Selfie powered Real-Time ID Check comes to India
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Published: October 2021
Last updated: December 2022