Uber’s newest security feature? Selfies that drivers must take before going online

Uber
Staying safe in an Uber will soon involve a selfie.

Taking a page out of some dating apps, which have recently begun requiring selfie verifications to ensure that users aren’t being fooled by fake profiles, the transportation giant is now requiring real-time photos, too. It’s the latest in a number of safety features the Silicon Valley startup has rolled out as a result of its rather troubled history with keeping passengers out of harm’s way. And this one is called Real-Time ID Check.

The security feature makes use of Microsoft Cognitive Services in order to keep both riders and drivers safe. On Friday, Uber announced that this feature would be expanded to cities across the U.S.

With this update, drivers are prompted to “share a selfie before going online to help ensure the driver using the app matches the account we have on file.” According to Uber, this extra step “prevents fraud and protects drivers’ accounts from being compromised. It also protects riders by building another layer of accountability into the app to ensure the right person is behind the wheel.”

If the selfie the driver shares doesn’t match, his or her account is temporarily blocked while Uber investigates. During their testing phase, Uber noted that “the majority of mismatches were due to unclear profile photos,” and further assured riders that over 99 percent of drivers were verified. And because the Real-Time ID Check takes “only a few seconds to complete,” the transportation giant claims “this feature proactively and efficiently builds more security into the app.”

While Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan noted that “driver account sharing or theft is a low-frequency problem right now,” he added that, “When it happens it’s a high-severity thing for us, so it makes sense to put our security resources on it.” He told USA Today, “For our customers, we just want to make sure that the trust is there 100 percent of the time.”

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