Skip to main content

Recording rides won’t fix Uber’s assault problem, lawyers say, but it’s a start

Thorough background checks, kicking accused predators off the apps, reporting assaults to police, and working more closely with authorities. These might be reasonable ways for ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft to deal with the tsunami of complaints the companies face from riders who say their drivers have sexually assaulted them. Or, more easily, you could just record your ride on your phone.

Indeed, Uber on Wednesday announced it would be rolling out a new feature on the app: The ability to make audio recordings of rides and send the audio to the company in the case of severe misconduct.

What’s more, attorneys who represent the plethora of survivors who have experienced an assault in a rideshare agree that this is “a step in the right direction,” even if it’s not an all-out solution.

Uber confirmed to Digital Trends that they had piloted the program in Brazil and Mexico, and designed the feature to comply with local laws in all pilot cities, but declined to specify how it would look as it was rolled out worldwide.

The rider or the driver can choose to make the recording through the app (it’s not an automated process), but Uber declined to say if it would also accept recordings or videos made through other apps as evidence as well. The idea would be to promote accountability and protect privacy, while still allowing the Uber safety team to take decisive action. Both the Uber and Lyft apps already have a type of “panic button” feature within their apps so passengers can contact authorities faster.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Laurel Simes, a partner at the law firm Levin Simes Abrams, which lists “Uber/Lyft Cases” as one of the top specialties on their website.

“This means Uber is looking at these issues seriously, which is the right thing to do,” she told Digital Trends. “I agree with the move.”

Simes said in her experience, the trouble in a rideshare begins with talking. “If someone knows they’re going to be recorded, that will change the entire landscape.” For one, it would give the rider something to show to the authorities, and it would make her job easier as an attorney for victims.

Stephen Estey, partner at the law firm Estey & Bomberger, told Digital Trends that drivers knowing they are being recorded could have a possible deterrent effect. He and his law partner have been inundated with sexual assault cases related to ride-sharing services — so many that they registered the website Both Estey and Simes said their firms were handling over 100 cases of assault claims against Uber and Lyft. “The phones are ringing off the hook,” Estey said.

As of last year, over 100 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault or abuse, according to CNN.

Estey was less optimistic than Simes about how the overall assault numbers would be affected.

“The problem is most of these assaults are against women who have been drinking,” he said. “So they’re taking an Uber for the right reasons — they don’t want to drink and drive — but they would have to have their wits about them to make a recording.” Furthermore, he added, after an assault, often the driver will steal the person’s phone. Estey called Uber’s new policy a “reactive approach.”

“It’s a Band-Aid,” he said. “They’ve created a platform for predators. With minimal background checks and no supervision, if you’re a predator, you go where the fishing is good.”

Simes’s view was that everyone should simply be making recordings of their trips all the time anyway. It should automatic when one gets in a rideshare now. “Sure, you need to be awake enough to do it,” she said. “Just always be recording.”

“Everyone knows this is an issue,” Simes said. “It’s being worked on now. It can’t go on forever, and it won’t.”

Editors' Recommendations

Maya Shwayder
I'm a multimedia journalist currently based in New England. I previously worked for DW News/Deutsche Welle as an anchor and…
SWAT team’s Spot robot shot multiple times during standoff
Spot, a robot dog.

A Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot deployed by the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) was shot during a standoff in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

It’s believed to be the first time that the robot helper has taken a bullet during active duty, and it highlights how the machine can help keep law enforcement out of harm’s way during challenging situations.

Read more
Microsoft Edge is slowly becoming the go-to browser for PC gamers
microsoft edge chromium to roll out automatically soon chrome

Microsoft Edge is already jam-packed with features that other web browsers don't have, but a new one might well help your PC run faster while gaming. The default Windows web browser now has the option to limit the amount of RAM it uses, helping you prioritize RAM access to other applications or games. The feature is currently being tested in the Canary version of Microsoft Edge and could roll out to everyone if Microsoft deems it useful enough and gets quality feedback.

Spotted by X (formerly Twitter) user Leopeva64, the setting for this new feature is buried in the System and Performance section of the latest Canary version of Microsoft Edge. It is being rolled out gradually, so not everyone has it yet, but it gives two options for controlling your PC resources.

Read more
How Intel and Microsoft are teaming up to take on Apple
An Intel Meteor Lake system-on-a-chip.

It seems like Apple might need to watch out, because Intel and Microsoft are coming for it after the latter two companies reportedly forged a close partnership during the development of Intel Lunar Lake chips. Lunar Lake refers to Intel's upcoming generation of mobile processors that are aimed specifically at the thin and light segment. While the specs are said to be fairly modest, some signs hint that Lunar Lake may have enough of an advantage to pose a threat to some of the best processors.

Today's round of Intel Lunar Lake leaks comes from Igor's Lab. The system-on-a-chip (SoC), pictured above, is Intel's low-power solution made for thin laptops that's said to be coming out later this year. Curiously, the chips weren't manufactured on Intel's own process, but on TSMC's N3B node. This is an interesting development because Intel typically sticks to its own fabs, and it even plans to sell its manufacturing services to rivals like AMD. This time, however, Intel opted for the N3B node for its compute tile.

Read more