Uber will launch a function to audio-record rides in the US as a means to make sure passenger and driver security, based on firm communications accessed by The Washington Put up and confirmed by Uber itself. The corporate says it plans to check the function in Mexico and Brazil subsequent month earlier than deciding when to carry it to the US.
Drivers can arrange the function to robotically report all rides, whereas passengers must activate the function by means of the app’s Security Toolkit earlier than getting right into a automobile; it’s not clear whether or not they’ll should allow the function earlier than every trip. Both means, riders and passengers received’t be notified when recording begins — Uber says they’ll get a normal warning when the function turns into accessible, in addition to prompts asking them to grant the app microphone entry.
Riders can select to submit the recording to Uber’s buyer help staff after they report a security problem. The recordings are saved in case a person decides to report the incident later.
The recordings will likely be encrypted and riders and drivers received’t be capable to entry the audio themselves, however Reuters reported earlier this month that the preliminary rollout of this function in Mexico and Brazil might make these recordings accessible to legislation enforcement officers upon request.
The function might increase some privateness points: a number of states have wiretapping statutes that prohibit recording individuals with out consent from each events to a dialog. That is additional sophisticated when a number of passengers are concerned. Uber says it’s nonetheless understanding these points.
Uber has been confronted with ongoing considerations about person security, specifically, its historical past of sexual assault circumstances. At the least 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or harassing their passengers, CNN reported final yr, and at the least 31 drivers have been convicted for crimes together with forcible touching, false imprisonment and rape.
Since then, Uber has been taking steps to enhance security inside its app, resembling permitting passengers to dial 911 straight from the app and saying a function that permits riders to report questions of safety in the course of the trip. A yr in the past, Uber introduced it will be releasing a transparency report this yr containing knowledge about sexual assaults, however the report hasn’t been launched but.
Uber has additionally had a number of circumstances of sexual harassment inside its firm. Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote a viral account of sexism and harassment on the firm. The following investigation into sexual harassment at Uber led to the firing of 20 staff.
The rideshare firm used to have a coverage of obligatory arbitration for circumstances of sexual assault and harassment, however ended it final yr.