The Uber Files expose gaps in regulatory structures, underline need for govts to be more nimble as they regulate Big Tech

Source: The post is based on the article, “The Uber Files expose gaps in regulatory structures. Underline need for governments to be more nimble as they regulate Big Tech” published in the Indian Express on 15th July

Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions

Relevance: Issues and Challenges related to the functioning of the Big Tech.

News: Over the past few days, investigation carried out in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has revealed issues in the manner in which Uber has conducted itself over the years

About Uber App

It started operation in 2010. The company has expanded globally and now operates in more than 70 countries and 10,000 cities. It has also become the world’s most valued start-up.

It has become popular because it provides ease in availing the cabs and that too at a competitive pricing model. For example, In India alone it has served around 9.5 crore riders.

It employs millions of drivers across the world. For example, In India alone, it has nearly six lakh driver partners.

What are the associated issues?

The company has bypassed regulators and cut corners to expand its business and presence. It operated in the regulatory grey zones and blind-spots.

The technology tools like “greyball” and “geofencing” were used to stay ahead of law enforcement or to keep Uber rides away from prying policemen and government officials on the streets.

Further, the company did not bother about the concerns of both riders and drivers who are lying at the heart of the platform.

The “critical elements of the new safety features” that were meant to be put in place after the rape incident in Delhi in December 2014 have still not been implemented.

There are issues related to the classification of drivers, and as a consequence their treatment. For example, the UK Supreme Court has ruled to treat them as workers rather than self-employed. This would entitle them to minimum wages and other benefits.

There are concerns over data privacy. For example, the ride-sharing platform holds a treasure trove of information on the ride-hailers.

Way Forward

The government, instead of imposing draconian rules, should frame regulation with a light touch so as not to throttle innovation.

Also, the government should become nimbler in their approach as they attempt to regulate the new age behemoths.

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