Ola and Uber
Ola and Uber

Does gender, remaining battery affect surge pricing? Parliamentary panel to Uber, Ola

Uber and Ola executives were questioned by Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill, 2019, on the fairness of algorithms, Chinese investment and flow of data.

Parliamentary panel on Thursday sought to know from the executives of cab aggregators Uber and Ola whether they have become transport companies with their own fleet and if surge pricing was determined by gender, time and battery power left in passenger's mobile. Cutting across party lines, members of the Joint Committee of Parliament on Data Protection Bill, 2019, questioned executives of both the companies about the fairness of algorithms, Chinese investment and flow of data, chairman of the panel Meenakshi Lekhi told PTI.

"Members specifically asked about surge pricing and whether it is determined by gender, location, time and battery left in the mobile and is there any limit on surge pricing," she said, adding the panel has sought written reply in an affidavit from both the cab aggregators.

The companies were also asked about having their own cars run by drivers with fixed salary. Both acknowledged that besides being cab aggregators, they have their own cars as well, Lekhi said.

She said, "Details have also been sought whether any preferential treatment is being given to their own cars by the companies as they will earn more by having more rides on these vehicles, and isn't it that both players have become a transport company rather than being a cab aggregator?"

According to sources, at the meeting, Uber conveyed that they have around 4,000 cars. The cars will be handed over to drivers by the end of this year and Uber will remain only a cab aggregator, its executives informed the panel.

According to a report by Livemint, the two companies were also asked whether thet seek Aadhaar details of their customers or riders and if so, about the safety of this data. The two companies were also asked about the storage of the data and whether they periodically delete the same.

Representatives of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Paytm have already deposed before the panel, while those of Ola, Uber and Airtel have been told to appear before the panel. 

The Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 11 last year. The bill seeks to provide protection to personal data of individuals as well as establishment of a data protection authority for the same. The proposed law seeks bar on storing and processing of personal data by entities without the explicit consent of an individual. The bill was later referred to the joint select committee of Parliament.

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