In an attempt to improve its image and safety record, ride-sharing giant Uber will allow passengers and drivers in Brazil and Mexico to record audio during rides beginning in December. The new option for riders will allow customers to record the ride and store an encrypted version of the audio on their phone. If needed, the recording can be shared with Uber, who can then review the information if there is a problem. While on the surface this seems like a way to protect passengers and drivers alike, when looked at a bit closer, it raises concerns.
The effectiveness of this strategy remains unclear until supported by data, and we find it curious that Uber has decided to roll these changes out in Mexico and Brazil while fighting against stricter oversight here in the United States. Even if an option to record the audio of a ride was available here in the States, would people want to give Uber that kind of access to their lives? Considering Uber is the only entity who has the encryption key to the recording, this raises privacy concerns. Would you want your private conversations to be only accessible by Uber?
It does make sense for Uber to test this technology in countries where their drivers face violence on a frequent basis. Uber has been slow to respond to changes in their business practices that would protect their passengers world wide. In markets such as Mexico and Brazil, Uber allows for cash payments, which in turn has led to violence against their drivers. Here in the United States, only recently has Uber added the 911 emergency function to their app in order to alert the authorities if your driver becomes violent.
At Estey & Bomberger, we will continue to fight against companies such as Uber and Lyft until they make systematic changes to protect their passengers better. They are aware of the lack of oversight in their hiring practices, but value the price of their stock over the safety of their customers. Questionable solutions such as recording rides do nothing to stop someone from acting out in the moment. More stringent hiring practices such as state and federal background checks and fingerprinting would be far more beneficial to protecting passengers. Our law firm has a 100% success rate in fighting for victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Uber and Lyft drivers, and will continue our fight until their passengers are protected.