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28 Apr 2020

Akshay Deshmane, HuffPost India

India: Online food delivery aggregator Zomato’s compulsory use of COVID-19 tracking app violates workers’ privacy rights, say experts

"Zomato Is Violating Workers' Rights By Forcing Them To Use Aarogya Setu", 29 April 2020

Online food delivery aggregator Zomato’s recent decision to make it mandatory for its ‘delivery partners’ to use the controversial Aarogya Setu app violates their autonomy and constitutional right to privacy, legal experts told HuffPost India. 

...According to the experts, Zomato can afford to neglect workers’ autonomy because, like most players in the gig economy, it has circumvented India’s complex regime of labour laws, resulting in inequitable conditions of service in an overall context where workers already have limited bargaining power. 

...Given that privacy has been held to be a fundamental right by the Supreme Court, he argued, it is up to each individual’s “right of choice” to decide what aspects of his privacy he or she is willing to part with voluntarily. “Therefore, the key elements of privacy and autonomy (implying voluntary choice) are crucial here.”  

To “bundle up”, Chatterjee explained, the delivery partner’s ability to earn his livelihood with the installation of an app leaves little room for free choice—especially since alternative work and bargaining power are limited while a national lockdown is in force. 

Online aggregators can do this because of the peculiar legal relationship between them and the workers, whom they refuse to term employees—they are called ‘driver partners’ (in the case of cab aggregators) or ‘delivery partners’ (in the case of food delivery aggregators)...