Skip to main content

Uber will start audio-recording rides as a safety measure

Uber will start audio-recording rides as a safety measure

/

Drivers and passengers won’t be able to access the recordings

Share this story

Uber will launch a feature to audio-record rides in the United States as a way to ensure passenger and driver safety, according to company communications accessed by The Washington Post and confirmed by Uber itself. The company says it plans to test the feature in Mexico and Brazil next month before deciding when to bring it to the US.

Drivers can set up the feature to automatically record all rides, while passengers will have to activate the feature through the app’s Safety Toolkit before getting into a car; it’s not clear whether they’ll have to enable the feature before each and every ride. Either way, riders and passengers won’t be notified when recording starts — Uber says they’ll get a general warning when the feature becomes available, as well as prompts asking them to grant the app microphone access.

Riders can choose to submit the recording to Uber’s customer support team when they report a safety issue. The recordings are saved in case a user decides to report the incident later.

Riders and drivers won’t be able to access the audio themselves

The recordings will be encrypted and riders and drivers won’t be able to access the audio themselves, but Reuters reported earlier this month that the initial rollout of this feature in Mexico and Brazil may make those recordings available to law enforcement officials upon request.

The feature may raise some privacy issues: several states have wiretapping statutes that prohibit recording people without consent from both parties to a conversation. This is further complicated when multiple passengers are involved. Uber says it is still working out these issues.

Uber has been faced with ongoing concerns about user safety, namely, its history of sexual assault cases. At least 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or harassing their passengers, CNN reported last year, and at least 31 drivers have been convicted for crimes including forcible touching, false imprisonment and rape.

Since then, Uber has been taking steps to improve safety within its app, such as allowing passengers to dial 911 directly from the app and announcing a feature that allows riders to report safety issues during the ride. A year ago, Uber announced it would be releasing a transparency report this year containing data about sexual assaults, but the report hasn’t been released yet.

Uber has also had several cases of sexual harassment within its company. Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote a viral account of sexism and harassment at the company. The ensuing investigation into sexual harassment at Uber led to the firing of 20 employees.

The rideshare company used to have a policy of mandatory arbitration for cases of sexual assault and harassment, but ended it last year.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.