Uber and drama have become synonymous with one another over the last few years. The transportation giant is practically a magnet for bad press, sticky situations, and even civil unrest, and now, Uber is finally making a concerted effort to proactively avoid further safety and security issues. On Tuesday, the company announced the creation of a safety advisory board, the purpose of which is to “navigate safety and security hurdles.” It’s a small group, but one comprising some pretty impressive names. Members include former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis; former deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation John Barton; and National Network to End Domestic Violence executive vice president Cindy Southworth.
The formation of this board comes none too soon, with this past year serving as one of Uber’s most contentious to date. Numerous accusations of faulty background checks that in turn led to passenger attacks emerged in countries around the world, and the service has been all but shut down across various parts of Europe. At home, San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys have accused Uber of failing to flag numerous drivers with criminal records, and earlier this year, a data breach that left 50,000 drivers vulnerable made national headlines.
The new safety advisory board will attempt to address all these issues in their advising of Uber’s internal safety and security teams. And with the diverse backgrounds of the board members, they’ll be able to draw from their own experiences with regard to the physical safety of both drivers and passengers, data security, and law enforcement cooperation.
The six-member team joins newly appointed chief security officer Joe Sullivan, who came aboard the Uber train just eight months ago after serving in similar capacities at both Facebook and eBay. “Throughout my careers as I’ve focused on tech security and safety, one of the things I’ve always known is you can’t do it alone, especially with emerging tech and the evolution of products going so quickly,” Sullivan told the LA Times. “You always need to look at it from a lot of different perspectives. [For example], John Barton is going to give me a perspective on highway safety that I don’t have. Cindy is going to give me a perspective on sexual assault [that I don’t have].”
And hopefully, with all these different perspectives, Uber will slowly extract itself from its perpetual environment of hot water.