SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Your next Uber ride may be recorded. The company announced Wednesday that some Uber riders and drivers in San Francisco can now use an audio recording safety feature on its app.
Some riders and drivers will begin seeing the feature in the app’s “Safety Toolkit” starting Wednesday. In the coming weeks, the feature will be available to all riders and drivers.
“Beginning today, Uber is expanding an in-app safety feature that will allow drivers and riders in San Francisco to record audio during trips. We launched the initial US pilot in December 2021 in three cities: Kansas City, MO; Raleigh, NC; and Louisville, KY,” Uber wrote.
Drivers and riders can enable the new feature to record audio during a trip.
Safety concerns — for both riders and drivers — have persisted since Uber launched as an alternative taxi-style service and setup its headquarters in San Francisco.
A man was robbed at gunpoint while waiting for an Uber near Alamo Square at 10 a.m. Monday, according to San Francisco police. The Uber rider was waiting near the intersection of Fulton and Steiner streets when four men wearing masks pulled up in an SUV and stole his laptops, police said.
Earlier this year, an Uber rider was killed on an offramp of Interstate-580 in Livermore. The California Highway Patrol said the rider was dropped off because of a fight with their Uber driver. The driver felt unsafe, called 911, pulled over, and told the rider to get out, investigators said. Shortly after, the rider was struck and killed while standing on the offramp by two vehicles, a Honda Civic and a big-rig truck.
“Safety is always top of mind at Uber, and we are always looking for technology-based innovation to raise that bar,” said Sachin Kansal, vice president of product at Uber. “We’ve heard from users that this audio recording feature helps them feel safer while on trips.”
Once an audio recording is completed, the audio file is encrypted and stored directly on the
rider or driver’s device. To help protect privacy, no one will be able to listen to the recording unless a driver or rider submits a safety report to Uber and attaches the encrypted audio file.
Emilie Boman, director of safety, privacy, and consumer protection at Uber, said, “Each
audio file is immediately encrypted, and stored directly on the user’s phone. This ensures
that no one – not even Uber – is able to access or listen to the recording, unless the (user)
chooses to submit it to Uber as part of a safety report.”
Secretly recording a trip is not an option, according to Uber. “By alerting both users in advance of the trip that audio recording is possible, we can help ensure everyone is OK with the recording and has the chance to cancel the trip if they don’t feel comfortable,” Boman said.
To activate an audio recording with the Uber app, you can tap the blue shield icon on the map screen, then tap “start” on the “record audio” option. Drivers and riders can start or stop an audio recording at any point during a trip. The recording will automatically stop shortly after the trip is completed.