Fortifying the Algorithmic Management Provisions in the Proposed Platform Work Directive

29 October 2022

SocArXiv Papers

Veale, M., Silberman, M. S., & Binns, R.

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The European Commission proposed a Directive on Platform Work at the end of 2021. While much attention has been placed on its effort to address misclassification of the employed as self-employed, it also contains ambitious provisions for the regulation of the algorithmic management prevalent on these platforms. Overall, these provisions are well-drafted, yet they require extra scrutiny in light of the fierce lobbying and resistance they will likely encounter in the legislative process, in implementation and in enforcement. In this article, we place the proposal in its sociotechnical context, drawing upon wide cross-disciplinary scholarship to identify a range of tensions, potential misinterpretations and perversions that should be pre-empted and guarded against at the earliest possible stage. These include improvements to ex ante and ex post algorithmic transparency; identifying and strengthening the standard against which human reviewers of algorithmic decisions review; anticipating challenges of representation and organising in complex platform contexts; creating realistic ambitions for digital worker communication channels; and accountably monitoring and evaluating impacts on workers while limiting data collection. We encourage legislators and regulators at both European and national level to act to fortify these provisions in the negotiation of the Directive, its potential transposition, and in its enforcement.