Uber to launch audio recording feature in three us cities

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Uber to launch audio recording feature in three us cities

Uber Technologies Inc. will launch an optional audio recording pilot program in three U.S. cities to improve safety, allowing drivers and riders to send trip recordings to Uber in case of a safety incident.

In the end of 2019 Uber disclosed it had received 6,000 reports of sexual assault and 107 road deaths related to 2.3 billion US trips in 2017 and 2018. The recording feature is intended to provide drivers and riders with added security if they feel uncomfortable and allow users to submit proof of how a situation unfolded, Uber said.

The audio recording feature was launched in Latin America two years ago and is available in 14 countries in the region, but will roll out in the United States for the first time.

The drivers and riders can opt into audio recording for individual trips through the Uber app, which will launch in Kansas City, Missouri, Louisville, Kentucky and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina later this month.

Riders are alerted to drivers possibly recording a trip via an in-app banner and can cancel if they are uncomfortable, Uber said.

The company has applied lessons learned in Latin America to ensure privacy, transparency and convenience, according to the Uber Vice President of Product Management, Sachin Kansal.

Kansal said that encrypted recordings are stored in the Uber app and users are not able to play them. If a safety incident occurs, users filing a safety report can send the recording to qualified Uber staff who are able to decrypt it, according to Kansal.

Kansal said that people will be very accepting of this feature. The company will initially focus its recording feature on U.S. jurisdictions with one party consent laws, according to Uttara Sivaram, Uber's senior manager of public policy.

A spokeswoman said the company was waiting for full-year traffic fatality data from the U.S. regulators to finalize its safety report for the years 2019 and 2020.