The New York Times reports that some Uber passengers in Texas have been videoed for several months.
The video has been stored online and could have been reviewed by members of Uber’s safety staff if the driver had reported a problem with the passenger.
The video recordings are part of a broad initiative at the ride-hailing company to capture more objective data about what happens inside vehicles during Uber trips, where disputes between riders and drivers often play out without witnesses […]
Uber began the video recording program in Texas in July, and is conducting smaller tests of the program in Florida and Tennessee.
Footage is sent to Uber if a crash is detected, a passenger reports a safety incident or – most controversially – if the driver requests it. In the latter case, however, passenger faces are blurred.
Camille Fischer, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the Uber videos raise obvious privacy concerns.
Uber already has this treasure trove of highly personal data about people. When you pair surveillance during those trips, whether it’s over the driver or over the passenger, you are getting a more fine-tuned snapshot of people’s daily lives […]
[She said] the recordings raised privacy concerns for drivers, who may feel that they have to opt in to video or audio recording in order to remain in good standing with Uber.
The Washington Post reports that Uber also plans to record audio during US rides after first testing this in some Latin American countries.
Uber may face legal barriers in the US, however.
The company plans to test it in the United States “soon,” according to the email, but the timeline for rolling it out is still unclear and may be difficult. “Laws in the United States around consent to being recorded can vary from state to state, but we hope to be able to make this available nationally,” the email said […]
Uber says that when both driver and passengers know they may be recorded, the platform becomes safer for everyone. The company says the decision not to alert either side to recording beginning is a deliberate one.
If someone is already uncomfortable and they start the audio recording, we don’t want there to be any escalation of that particular situation.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.