New feature allows Uber drivers and passengers to record each other
You may now be recorded during your Uber ride after the ridesharing company launched a new feature in an effort to enhance safety.
The Audio Recording safety feature will allow both drivers and riders to record conversations during the trip using the app.
While many might be worried that their predictably boring questions like “Has it been a busy night?” might be used against them, that’s really not the purpose of the new feature.
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Uber says the audio can be used in case there is an on-trip incident and help the company determine next steps if there’s an investigation.
It’s not automatically set up. Users have to install the feature through the app and then click on the blue shield icon to begin recording.
“Drivers and riders can start or stop an audio recording at any point during a trip. Unless ended manually by the user during the trip, recording will automatically stop shortly after the trip is completed,” Uber said.
While it might sound Big Brother-ey to be recorded without your consent, it’s completely legal in Canada as long as one of the parties involved in the private conversation gives it the okay, and that person can be you or the driver.
So, there was nothing stopping ridesharing users from recording on their phones while travelling anyway, but Uber says this feature will have built-in privacy measures to ensure that audio doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
“All audio recordings are encrypted and stored securely on the rider’s or driver’s device. Their recording will be locked, and no one—not the driver, not Uber, not the rider—has access to it. Uber can only access the recording if the rider or driver reports a safety incident and chooses to share the recording with Uber,” Uber said Wednesday.
And Uber says drivers who have the new feature set up will be required to tell the riders before each trip that the passenger might be recorded.
“We are thrilled to launch this important safety feature across Canada,” said Michael van Hemmen, general manager of Uber Canada Mobility. “We’re always looking for ways to leverage our innovative technology to build features that help make Uber safer. We hope this audio recording feature will help give riders and drivers peace of mind by encouraging comfortable and positive interactions while on trips.”
This comes in the wake of several high-profile news stories surrounding incidents within ridesharing vehicles, including a recent conviction in Vancouver after an Uber driver was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old passenger. In January, an Uber driver was assaulted by a passenger in Burnaby. RCMP said that the assault was filmed by the driver’s camera system, and the suspect was later arrested.