Uber has confirmed that it will start recording audio during trips in select markets in a bid to improve security.
The feature — spotted by the Washington Post and confirmed by Uber — requires users to opt in to be recorded on a specific trip or all trips. Passengers and drivers won’t be able to directly access the recording though.
“When the trip ends, the user will be asked if everything is okay and be able to report a safety incident and submit the audio recording to Uber with a few taps,” read an email from an Uber executive obtained by the outlet.
“The encrypted audio file is sent to Uber’s customer support agents who will use it to better understand an incident and take the appropriate action.”
A question of consent
The Washington Post reports that Uber’s audio-recording feature will first be tested in several Latin American markets before a trial run takes place in the US. The email notes that there’s no timeline for a national rollout in the US, as laws regarding consent for recording differ by state.
Passengers will reportedly be able to activate the feature via the Safety Toolkit suite in the Uber app, while drivers can apparently set the app to automatically record audio from all trips. Even if both parties are recording audio, this still raises the question of recording other passengers in the car who might not know they’re being recorded.
An Uber representative explained that specific warnings wouldn’t be issued to passengers and drivers the moment a phone starts recording. The company representative says they’ll use a blanket statement in launch markets and ask permission for microphone access on the phone to alert users to the move.
This still doesn’t solve the problem of other passengers in a car being alerted to the recording. Still, audio recordings should theoretically assist drivers or passengers in the event of a dispute.
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