LONDON—A four-woman technology-advocacy group that forced the British government to scrap a controversial algorithm for processing visas and led a public backlash over a tool for predicting high-school grades now is taking on Facebook Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. over worker rights.
The group, named Foxglove after the European flower that, the founders note, can act as both poison or cure, has become a sudden force in the continent’s tech circles. Its recent high-profile success in the U.K. over the past year and a half has given it a global platform unusual for such a small group.
Similar groups have sprung up in Europe and the U.S. to challenge what they view as the rising power of Silicon Valley, with the advocacy largely centered on privacy issues. Foxglove has cut a different path, taking aim at government-created algorithms that increasingly make decisions in civic areas like education and immigration.
“There was almost nobody in civil society doing anything about that,” said one of Foxglove’s founders, Cori Crider, a 39-year-old Texan. “What we’re interested in is this change in the way power has been exercised, almost hiding a bunch of contestable policy judgments behind a technical veneer.”
A nonprofit with a budget this year of just over a half-million dollars, Foxglove is now looking into tech-worker rights. Its founders came together in 2019 over weekend brunches at their homes across London. Along with Ms. Crider, the group’s leaders are Rosa Curling, a 42-year-old British attorney, and Martha Dark, a 33-year-old operations manager for human-rights groups. All three had worked on broader human rights issues. Last year, Hiba Ahmad, 27, a researcher, joined.