COVID19 Trackers

We have set up three trackers to monitor issues of rights, surveillance, and social protection

Tracking Worker Surveillance (COVID19 and before)

The ongoing COVID19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown and social distancing measures have forced workers into new ways of working. This has been accompanied by increased surveillance over workers. Employers have used the risk of a highly contagious virus and increased remote working to justify increasingly invasive worker monitoring and tracking technologies on employees. While most of these technologies predate Covid-19 and have been in use by companies for the last few years, their adoption has increased since the outbreak, raising pertinent questions around worker privacy, autonomy, and agency. The adoption of workers surveillance technologies affects both blue and white collar workers but as with other inequities, blue collar workers are likely to feel the impact more strongly. We have been keeping track of worker surveillance technologies that are being introduced to workplaces, its relation to the Covid-19 response and its impact on worker wellbeing. As the pandemic wears on, it is likely that it will be used as justification for extraordinary measures that adversely impact workers.

COVID19 Tech Tools for Public Health in India

There has been an avalanche of apps and technology tools across the world in response to coronavirus pandemic. India, too has focused efforts on tech solutions that have zeroed in on not only automating contact tracing but various types of tech to aid in the state efforts to fight covid-19. While these tech solutions have received a huge amount of media attention, there are numerous concerns such as misidentification, violations of data protection and privacy rights and surveillance that arise. In an attempt to draw attention to the plethora of tech tools in addition to the widely known surveillance based contact tracing apps, this datasheet provides a rapid review of the different tech tools being deployed to supplement and augment the public health response to the COVID19 in India.

COVID19 & Social Protection for Gig Workers

The ongoing COVID crisis is likely to exacerbate the precarity of gig workers. Most only get paid per assignment and gigging with a platform does not allow them any of the social protection measures that might come with formal employment, such as sick leave or health insurance. Now, with COVID, many gig workers are without regular sources of income, nor any clarity on when work might resume. Others, continue to provide essential services during this crisis, risking their health and safety. It is critical that platforms assume certain responsibilities or obligations towards the wellbeing and protection of gig workers.

With this tracker, we at Tandem Research are documenting the various social protection measures offered by platforms as well progress on implementation, in India and globally.



Authors

Urvashi Aneja

Urvashi Aneja is Founding Director of Tandem Research. Her work examines the ways in which digital technologies are restructuring political, economic, and social relations in India, and the global south. She has written extensively on the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence, labor wellbeing and rights in a gig economy, and the politics of international aid and civil society networks. Urvashi is also Associate Fellow at Chatham House and has served on government committees on artificial intelligence and frontier technologies. She has a PhD from the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Oxford. Previously, she was Associate Professor of International Relations at the OP Jindal Global University and Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

Zothan Mawii

Zothan Mawii is a Research Fellow at Tandem Research. Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, work, and gender in the global south. She is currently working on a project exploring Indian women’s experiences of working in the digital economy. She has also been working closely with civil society organisations and gig workers’ unions to advocate for better labour protections and working standards. Her past work examines the impact of digital labour platforms in emerging economies and involved extensive fieldwork in India, South Africa, and Myanmar. She holds a MA in Digital Culture and Society from King's College London and a BA (Hons) in English from St. Stephen's College, DU.

Angelina Chamuah

Angelina Chamuah is a Research Fellow at Tandem Research. Her current work examines the social and ethical implications of AI and other emerging technologies in India. She has been studying the impact of AI in India across different sectors including agriculture, healthcare, policing, and finance. Key to her research are questions of values and interests that drive socio-technological imaginaries of AI and the future of AI governance in India. In addition to AI, her research interests include the role of Big Tech companies in India, politics of data and human-machine interaction. She holds an M.Phil in Sociology and a Masters in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, DU.

Harsh Ghildiyal

Harsh Ghildiyal is a Research Associate at Tandem Research working on the AI & Society initiative. His current work is focused on issues of data, artificial intelligence, privacy, and platform governance. He is interested in understanding the social implications of technologies and the legal and regulatory responses to them, and working towards an equitable technological future. He has a degree in humanities and law from Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam.

Joanne D'Cunha

Joanne D'Cunha is a research associate with the AI and Society Initiative at Tandem. Her work focuses on data governance, artificial intelligence, and related legal and policy challenges. She's interested in investigating the implications of data and emerging technologies, and its interaction with law and society. She has a Masters of Law in Information Technology from the University of Sussex, and a Bachelors of Arts and Law from Symbiosis Law School.

Iona Eckstein

Iona Eckstein works on the Future of Work & Learning initiative at Tandem. Her work mainly focuses on the intersection between technology and labour, specifically; the evolution of the platform economy, digital labour, workplace surveillance, and more recently, the impact of Covid-19 on workers. She is also passionate about feminist perspectives on the future of work, and how women and other marginalised groups can benefit from technological advances. She has conducted fieldwork in India, Nepal, Tanzania and Denmark, and has a B.Sc in Sociology from the University of Bristol and an M.Sc in Global Development from the University of Copenhagen.