A hidden consequence of the gig economy is that workers keep asking customers for sex or dates

1 in 3 younger Brits have been targeted by workers asking for sex or dates, the UK’s data watchdog found.

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Businesses in food and parcel delivery often rely on large numbers of gig-economy workers.The UK’s data watchdog found some of these workers are propositioning customers.”People have the right to order a pizza […] without then being asked for sex,” a watchdog said.

Almost 1 in 3 Brits between 18 and 34 years old have received unwanted contact from delivery drivers or other workers asking them out on dates or for sex, the UK’s data watchdog has warned.

The survey of over 2,000 British adults carried out for the Information Commissioner’s Office found that, in total, 17% of people have had their personal information used for a romantic or sexual proposition after handing it over to a business.

That figure rises to 33% in London, where such incidents are most common.

“People have the right to order a pizza, or give their email for a receipt, or have shopping delivered, without then being asked for sex or a date a little while later,” said Emily Keaney, a deputy commissioner at the ICO.

“Our research today shows a disturbingly high number of people, particularly young people, are falling prey to these text pests,” she added.

In June, a female Etihad Airways passenger told The Guardian how she felt unsafe after a worker contracted by the airline found her phone number in the company system then sent her unsolicited text messages.

“There may be, amongst some, an outdated notion that to use someone’s personal details given to you in a business context to ask them out is romantic or charming,” Keaney said. “Put quite simply, it is not – it is against the law.”

A growing number of firms, particularly in delivery, transport, or logistics, rely on gig economy or contract workers. These workers are not entitled to the same employment rights as full-time workers, the jobs can be precarious and badly paid, and turnover is often high. One consequence is that sensitive customer information, such as phone numbers and addresses, is accessible to casual workers.

The ICO did not explicitly name any companies, but pointed to “major businesses” operating in food and parcel delivery.

Its survey found that two-thirds of the UK public believe it isn’t morally right to use personal details given for business purposes for romantic or sexual propositions.

The regulator said it’s cracking down on such occurrences, asking victims to come forward, and reaching out to companies to remind them of their data protection responsibilities.

If a company is found not to be following data-protection laws, it can be fined up to £17.5 million ($22.1 million) or 4% of its global turnover.

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