Uber is now planning to record all conversations that happen during the trip, as a safety measure in case an incident happens during an Uber ride. According to a some internal communication docs accessed by Washington post (and later confirmed by Uber), this new feature is currently being tested in Latin America and will soon be made live in the U.S.
The feature will allow users to ‘opt-in’ to activate an audio recording on any trip or all trips. While the U.S. will perhaps an opt-in functionality, Uber is expected to push this out as a built-in feature in other markets it operates in. In markets other than the U.S., users will get a blanket warning, that all of their audio within a trip is subject to recording.
“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,” according to an email written by an Uber executive and obtained by The Post. “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.”
Neither the driver nor the rider will ever be able to listen to those audio files. The files will also be fully encrypted, in order to ensure user privacy. However, looking at how even the most secure social networks have become subject to hacking, one needs to be skeptical of such encryption surety.
There is no definite timeline to the actuall roll-out of this feature. In a reply to the Washington Post, the Uber executive further mentioned, “Laws in the United States around consent to being recorded can vary from state to state, but we hope to be able to make this available nationally,”
However viability and security of such a measure will continue to remain under question. Uber rides are taken by people from varied backgrounds across the world, and not all would be aware enough to be cautionary of what they speak of while taking a ride. Even if user consent is taken, these conversations, if leaked or hacked, could result in serious lapse of user privacy.
An India roll-out of the feature still looks distant, but Uber needs to be prepared to tackle privacy concerns within the country. Such concerns have seen an upsurge off late, arising primarily from user privacy on social media — the latest of them being Whatsapp-Pegasus hacking incident.