Amongst other gig economy projects such as UberEats and Postmates, Doordash caters to its patronage via independent delivery drivers (called Dashers) who use their own cars to deliver food. How it worked during my time there was simple: I picked a time slot in a particular area, logged into the app, did the deliveries, and got a direct deposit at the end of each week.

Throughout the job I could not compete with crashes on my degrading smart phone, in-app errors, and unexpected changes in location. Eventually I never logged onto the Dasher app again.

After several years I decided to re-download the app as a customer and noticed a lot of changes in UI, or user interface. The biggest difference happened after I purchased the food: once a delivery driver was chosen by the algorithm, a tiny red dot appeared on my phone, tracking their location in real time on the map.

I watched the icon slowly maneuver across stop lights and traffic, in between the restaurant and my apartment. A block before the blip on the screen arrived, I went to the front door and waved at the Dasher before they could even pull out their phone and call.

But what does any of this have to do with Amazon and Ring?

The idea of location tracking on deliveries seems like an obvious addition throughout different stages of UI development, but on the side of the driver, its existence can feel perverse. While this exists in-app as a security measure to reassure customers about the whereabouts of their purchase, on the driver side it is a forfeit to privacy. On certain apps this may only extend to things like your location, such as the little red dot on the Doordash map. However, a piece of technology that affects all delivery drivers is Amazon’s Ring doorbell.

#workers-rights #ring #privacy #surveillance #amazon

Amazon’s Ring and the Delivery Surveillance Apparatus
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