Investors in home security apps did not comment on steps taken to mitigate negative human rights impacts in India
Applications such as MyGate, ApnaComplex, and NoBrokerHood are popular in urban India for automating housing society surveillance, managing guest entries, carrying out utility payments and facilitating resident communication. However, lawyers and researchers claim they enable unchecked monitoring of domestic workers without their consent, facilitating discrimination and harassment in urban apartment complexes. Critics argue these apps, used in over 40,000 complexes, create power imbalances that further marginalise the poor communities working there. Backed by major tech companies and investors--including Google, Tencent, Tiger Global Management and ANAROCK Capital--these apps "collect and store data from domestic workers, and monitor their movements during work hours, often without their knowledge", according to Rest of World. They also have "a problematic one-sided rating system", highlighting information asymmetry and lack of informed consent. Experts criticize the platforms for prioritizing residents' privacy while neglecting that of domestic workers.
Investors play a pivotal role in shaping the behavior of tech startups in alignment with human rights principles, as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Guiding Principles underscore the need for investors to conduct due diligence, assessing potential human rights impacts of their investments. This involves understanding how a startup's products or services might be used in ways that could violate human rights, and encouraging portfolio companies to take steps to prevent or mitigate such risks. Investors can engage with startups in a meaningful dialogue, urging them to integrate human rights considerations into their strategies and operations, including by providing remediation where necessary.
Therefore, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre contacted Google, Tencent, Tiger Global Management and ANAROCK Capital to comment on any actions that they are taking to use their leverage and support the companies they are investing in, with the aim of ensuring that their products are used in a manner that is aligned with human rights principles. Google has a human rights policy states that it is "committed to respecting the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its implementing treaties, as well as upholding the standards established in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and in the Global Network Initiative Principles (GNI Principles)." Tencent, Tiger Global Management and ANAROCK Capital do not have public human rights policies.
None of the investors or investing companies replied to our information request.