Uber, workplace sexual harassment, #UberCestOver, #DeleteUber, TFGBV
Uber markets itself as a technology company that is managed primarily by ML algorithms with the support of human engineers. Yet, in its 2019 Report, the role that its technology played in relation to sexual violence is, for all intents and purposes, absent. Likewise, solutions dealing specifically with the role of technology in facilitating gender-based violence are also missing from the series of initiatives in which Uber has invested that are aimed at preventing sexual violence. Uber was not sufficiently rigorous in defining the problem it was trying to solve. It was a missed opportunity that has resulted in continued harm.
There is equally a dearth of analysis in respect of how technology is used as a tool by perpetrators to broaden the scope of sexual violence in the case law involving Uber. This may suggest that the courts do not have the tools to deal with the role that technology plays. Evidence of this can be found not only in cases of sexual violence but elsewhere. Uber Technologies Inc. v. Heller is a good example. While the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision here ‘‘brought the doctrine of unconscionability from the backburners to the forefront of contract law,” the Court failed to recognize the fundamental role that technology played in the case. Effectively, the Court left the role of technology in Uber, on the backburners of contract law, when in fact it should have been at the forefront.
This leads to the key question: what path should Uber take to deal with TFGBV? Uber must recognize that to have an algorithm that is not toxic, it must deal with its toxic environment.
Amanda Turnbull, "Onlife Harms: Uber and Sexual Violence" (2022) 19:2 CJLT 277.