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Gig economy workers’ collective questions use of Aarogya Setu

The Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT) called for “escalation and possible future proofing of how these surveillance and monitoring systems [such as Aarogya Setu] will affect” gig economy workers in a statement on June 4. The organisation, which represents over 35,000 workers in 12 cities, has a problem with tying Aarogya Setu to people’s ability to access services, regulate their movement and deciding if they can work. IFAT fears this data would be used in “retaliatory or exploitative manner”: Retaliatory action against employees who collectivise: Using location and Bluetooth data, the company can monitor individuals or groups of individuals that they deem to be disruptive to their operations, and track people who are collectivising or meeting frequently. The companies may take punitive measures against them. Assign work on the basis of health details: Coupling the health data input into the Aarogya Setu app with health details entered into companies’ own service apps, companies may tailor the “quantum of work” allocated to each individual. Punitive action on the basis of health details entered in Aarogya Setu: If companies get access to the health data, they could terminate jobs or reduce their rides/deliveries if they self-report any symptom on Aarogya Setu. This could be used to ensure that companies don’t have to pay for workers’ insurance or treatment. Make salaries contingent upon downloading the app: Some companies have made workers’ pay conditional upon them downloading the app. IFAT has called this “coercion”. Lack of sunset clause on the app, personal…

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