Following Kalamazoo tragedy, Uber faces questions about its driver vetting process

uber lyft lose appeal austin stop service rider
As Michigan begins its long healing process in the days after the Kalamazoo tragedy, our nation as a whole has been forced (yet again) to grapple with a number of recurring debates. Out of loss, it seems, must come some sense of learning to provide some small hope that lives were not lost in vain. While the gun control argument is one that we’ve heard a thousand times, a newer and perhaps more unique question now being raised lies in the Uber vetting process. Uber has showed no signs of slowing in terms of its almost meteoric rise to the top of the transportation industry, and as it grows larger, provides more rides, and hires more drivers, a very serious issue now stands — how well do we know the people whose cars we so willingly (and so frequently) enter?

Jason Dalton, the 45-year-old man responsible for the devastating attacks in Michigan, was revealed to be a driver for Uber Technologies Inc., spurring new interest in the company’s review process for its employees. This is by no means the first time the San Francisco-based startup has received flack for its seemingly lax driver guidelines — reports of assault, rape, and otherwise have been noted for years, both in the United States and internationally.

While Uber says that it is fully cooperating with the police’s investigation, the company has maintained that its “safety protocol is robust and adequate.” And on Monday, Uber’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan noted that the company had no plans to change the way it vets its drivers as a result of the tragedy.

“If there is nothing on someone’s record, no background check will raise a red flag,” Sullivan said on a media conference call. Indeed, Uber’s Rachel Whetstone told People Magazine, “[Dalton] had no criminal background so nothing would have turned up for him during the background check he passed. Unfortunately, this man just decided to go and do what he did. It is hard to know how to deal with these people who go rogue.”

But some believe that it is, in fact, Uber’s responsibility to ensure that its drivers do not, as Whetstone says, “go rogue,” resulting in the consequences involving human life. Or at the very least, that Uber must somehow do better in determining who among its vast employee base has a greater chance of erratic and violent behavior.

Other critics have noted that Uber’s background check policy is not nearly as robust as it could be. Not only does Uber “never meet (drivers) in person to see if they get a strange vibe,” according to Who’s Driving You spokesman Dave Sutton, but neither Uber nor Lyft actually have a fingerprint check in place.

“This driver was acting irrationally and operating his vehicle erratically … in the hours leading up to and between these senseless shootings,” said Gary Buffo, the president of the National Limousine Association. And whether a more robust background check system — whether that means in-person interviews or more record-checking — could’ve saved lives, we’ll simply never know.

Mobile

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.
Apple

Apple Pay will be available at 70 percent of U.S. retail locations this year

Apple Pay is growing rapidly, so we've built a list of all the vendors, retailers, and companies worldwide that plan to support Apple's burgeoning mobile payment platform or already do.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

World of Warcraft's allied races will make you want to start a new character

The Horde and Alliance are seeking new allies in their struggle for control of Azeroth. Whether you pledge your allegiance to the Horde or Alliance, we've got a guide to help you unlock every allied race that's coming in Battle for Azeroth.
Mobile

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Deals

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Mobile

Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for and start using with your iPhone

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Mobile

Check out 22 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

The iPhone 7 might be attractive, but it’s not rugged. To keep your device in pristine condition, you really need to think about proper protection. That's why we've rounded up some of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers available.