A day after Uber revealed that more than 3,000 riders and drivers have been sexually assaulted final 12 months whereas utilizing its U.S. service, consideration is popping to what’s next for the ride-hailing large and whether or not its plans to enhance security go far sufficient.
Uber’s report was hailed by victims’ rights organizations for taking a step that different firms have to this point been unwilling to match. But it surely’s unclear whether or not the transparency will assist rebuild belief or backfire by exhibiting clients how deep Uber’s security issues go.
Within the security report, Uber mentioned 464 folks have been raped whereas utilizing its U.S. companies in 2017 and 2018. Virtually all of them — 99.Four per cent — have been riders. It’s troublesome to match these statistics to different modes of transportation, as a result of U.S. taxi firms and transit businesses typically don’t accumulate related nationwide knowledge.
Even so, many mentioned the report exhibits Uber has work to do.
“This is a major crisis situation that they’re going to have to deal with because the brand’s built on safety, and even though some could try to say it’s a small number, it’s still way too high — it’s higher than zero — and I think that shows a gap in their screening process,” mentioned Dan Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities.
The revelations give “meat on the bones” to regulators, together with these in London who selected to not renew Uber’s license over questions of safety, he mentioned.
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Uber has been working to enhance security during the last two years, rolling out options together with an in-app emergency button, a ride-check characteristic that detects sudden stops or crashes and the flexibility for riders or drivers to share their location with family members during a trip. The corporate outlined extra security steps it should take in the report.
On Monday, Uber plans to launch in seven cities a characteristic to offer riders a four-digit quantity that they’ll use to confirm that they’re entering into the suitable automobile. Next 12 months, it plans to launch a survivor assist hotline staffed by RAINN, a sexual violence group, and to supply sexual misconduct training for drivers. The hotline might encourage more victims to report assaults.
The report solely covers Uber’s U.S. operations. The U.S. and Canada introduced in 63 per cent of Uber’s income final quarter. Lyft mentioned it might launch its personal security report, nevertheless it has not indicated when.
Critics say Uber ought to be doing more, notably with background checks, to weed out probably harmful drivers. In contrast to many taxi firms, Uber and its foremost U.S. rival, Lyft, don’t verify drivers’ fingerprints towards a nationwide database.
The gold normal for background checks is fingerprinting “because someone can easily fake a Social Security number,” mentioned Dominique Penson, an lawyer who has represented sexual assault victims. “You can’t fake a fingerprint. And if somebody has been convicted of a crime anywhere in the United States, that will appear in a national database, and when you run that fingerprint, you’ll know.”
Uber says the FBI has acknowledged its database is incomplete and doesn’t all the time embrace a last disposition. The corporate’s course of features a motorcar screening, a felony background verify and ongoing notifications about any new offences.
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An added fingerprint verify may add valuable time to the driver-approval course of at a time when each Uber and Lyft are fiercely competing for market share.
Dashboard cameras additionally may assist by recording incidents and serving as a deterrent for unhealthy behaviour, mentioned Harry Campbell, founding father of The Rideshare Man, a weblog and on-line group for drivers. Campbell encourages drivers to get cameras, however the ride-hailing firms haven’t inspired the follow.
“Even if you have dashcam footage, it’s hard to get Uber and Lyft to actually look at the footage,” Campbell mentioned.
Final month, Uber introduced it might permit passengers and drivers in Brazil and Mexico to file audio of their rides.
A U.S. Home committee is laws that would scale back the variety of sex assaults involving ride-hailing passengers and drivers, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, chairman of the Home Transportation Committee, mentioned Friday.
The committee has mentioned requiring fingerprint background checks, digital camera monitoring and entrance license plates for ride-hailing vehicles in states that don’t have them. This could assist forestall faux ride-hailing drivers from choosing up passengers by making it simpler for passengers to verify plate numbers towards those supplied by Uber and Lyft, DeFazio mentioned.
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In Eugene, Oregon, fingerprint checks earlier this 12 months by the native police division discovered about two dozen Uber and Lyft drivers had felony information that have been missed in the businesses’ checks, DeFazio mentioned. One was a convicted assassin, whereas one other was a registered sex offender, in keeping with The Register-Guard newspaper. Town stopped the folks from driving for the businesses.
There could also be limits on what federal legislators can do. Experience-hailing firms might be regulated federally as a result of they conduct interstate commerce, however that’s new authorized territory, he mentioned.
Nonetheless, he applauded Uber’s report, saying the corporate had performed more than any of its rivals “by just reporting,” DeFazio mentioned. “There’s more to be done, for sure.”
The report raised alarm amongst some riders.
“I think I’ve taken it a little bit for granted, the fact that the app already tracks who I am and where I’m at,” mentioned Mary Yao, 28, an MBA scholar at U.C. Berkeley. “I think I’ll be more conscientious next time I climb into a car to not always be on my phone. So it has made me raise my awareness a little bit.”
Bryant Greening, an lawyer and co-founder of LegalRideshare, a Chicago regulation agency that specializes in ride-sharing instances, famous that more than 40% per cent of the reported sexual assaults, which embrace incidents much less critical than rape, have been towards drivers, who are also in danger.
“There’s no more dangerous place to be than in a moving car with a stranger,” Greening mentioned. “You are really vulnerable without a clear path to escape. So this system, rideshare, needs to be made safe for everybody who is in that car.”
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