Glovo fined in Italy over Foodinho’s use of algorithms

6 Jul 2021

Image: © Joaquin Corbalan/Stock.adobe.com

The data protection authority has told the company to adjust its automated processes to make them clearer to riders.

Glovo, the Spanish on-demand delivery company, has been slapped with a fine in Italy over how its Foodinho service uses algorithms.

Garante, the Italian data protection authority, fined Glovo-owned Foodinho €2.6m over the way algorithms are used manage to its couriers and assign orders.

The authority said that Foodinho had not adequately explained to riders how the algorithm makes its decisions in evaluating their work.

It also took issue with Foodinho for failing to provide an avenue for riders to challenge decisions made by algorithms that ultimately influence how much work they get. The app has 19,000 riders in Italy, according to Reuters.

Glovo and Foodinho have 150 days to respond to the order and make adequate changes to give riders more clarity.

The use of algorithms is likely to become a hot topic of debate in the ever-growing discussion around gig economy worker rights.

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In the Netherlands, a court ordered Uber to reinstate a driver that was fired from the platform based on data analysed by algorithm. Similarly, the court ordered Indian rival Ola to explain how its algorithms work in evaluating driver performance and implementing sanctions.

Those cases were taken by the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), which it said it will continue to challenge algorithm-based decision-making regarding drivers.

The ADCU was also involved in the landmark case in the UK against Uber that determined drivers should be classified as workers rather than contractors.

Glovo has faced similar challenges. Regulations in its home market of Spain are set to recategorise delivery riders as employees, which will introduce a swathe of new costs to doing business.

The company recently teamed up with some of its rivals in Europe, including Delivery Hero and Bolt, to form a new group to lobby for friendly regulations for gig economy companies on a European level.

Glovo raised €450m from investors earlier this year.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com