Amazon has been using an app to keep delivery drivers under “constant surveillance” for a number of years, sparking yet more concerns over its employees’ privacy rights.
Earlier this month Amazon announced that it was installing new artificial intelligence-driven cameras to its fleet of delivery vans aimed and monitoring its drivers’ behaviour throughout their shift and improving safety.
However, according to CNBC, Amazon has already been tracking the behaviour of its drivers for a number of years via an app called Mentor.
Mentor, created by road safety technology company eDriving, will run continuously during an Amazon driver’s shift and monitor their driving, giving them a score for their performance at the end.
Amazon requires drivers in its delivery service partner (DSP) programme, which uses third party companies to carry out last-mile deliveries, to download the app and log in at the start of each shift.
It will then monitor behaviour like sharp braking, speeding and sending texts, then give drivers a score ranging from “poor” to “fantastic”.
According to a number of drivers who wished to remain anonymous, these scores are then used to rate individuals’ job performance, as well as that of their larger delivery company.
If a third-party delivery firm has a number of poorly performing drivers this will drag down its overall DSP score, meaning Amazon will not offer them benefits like optimal delivery routes.
Drivers have also complained of glitches and issues with the app leading to unfair disciplinary action.
One complained that the app would log every stop as “distracted driving”, while another complained that they “got a ding because someone called me and I didn’t answer it”.
Digital rights organisation Fight for the Future’s deputy director Evan Greer said: “The knowledge that you’re under this level of constant surveillance, that even if you’re doing a good job at your job, an app or algorithm could make a determination that impacts your life or your ability to put food on the table for your kids is, I think, profoundly unjust.
“It’s incredibly dystopian.”
In response, Amazon spokesperson Deborah Bass told CNBC in a statement: “Safety is Amazon’s top priority.
“Whether it’s state-of-the art telemetrics and advanced safety technology in last-mile vans, driver-safety training programs, or continuous improvements within our mapping and routing technology, we have invested tens of millions of dollars in safety mechanisms across our network, and regularly communicate safety best practices to drivers.”