Uber Sexual Assault Survivors Demand In-Car Cameras And Technological Upgrades For Safety


A panel of judges has ruled that over 80 cases filed by hundreds of women who have been sexually assaulted by Uber drivers can be consolidated into federal court. This decision could have significant implications for both Uber and its riders and drivers. The outcome of the case has the potential to bring about sweeping changes to Uber’s platform, with survivors calling for better technological solutions to prevent sexual assault, such as in-vehicle surveillance cameras.

Key Takeaway

Uber sexual assault survivors are calling for the installation of in-vehicle surveillance cameras and other technological upgrades to enhance safety on the platform. They argue that the company’s current safety features and background checks are inadequate in preventing instances of sexual assault. The outcome of the consolidated cases filed against Uber in federal court could result in significant changes to Uber’s operations, impacting both riders and drivers.

Insufficient Responses to Sexual Assault Cases

Despite introducing safety features like a 911 button and location-sharing in its app, survivors and their attorneys argue that Uber’s response to sexual assault incidents has been inadequate. These in-app solutions are considered half-measures that have failed to address instances of sexual violence on the platform. As a result, survivors are demanding the installation of mandatory in-vehicle cameras in all Uber cars, which they believe would serve as an essential safety measure.

The Role of In-Vehicle Cameras

Rachel Abrams, a sexual assault attorney and partner at law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise, has cited studies showing that taxis equipped with in-vehicle cameras have significantly reduced instances of sexual assault against passengers and drivers. By capturing incidents on film, predatory and opportunistic drivers are deterred from committing crimes. However, Uber has not mandated the use of cameras in its ride-hail vehicles, potentially due to privacy concerns and varying laws across different regions.

Uber Under Scrutiny for Background Checks

Survivors in the joined lawsuit also criticize Uber’s background checks as inadequate. They allege that the company’s “fast and shallow background checks” make it easy for drivers with red flags to sign up quickly. Uber currently relies on third-party companies to conduct these checks, which plaintiffs argue are not comprehensive enough. Survivors are calling for fingerprinting, which would involve running prospective drivers through FBI databases to ensure a more thorough screening process.

Uber’s Safety Features Evaluated

Abrams argues that Uber’s in-app safety features are insufficient, as they heavily rely on riders having access to their phones in critical situations. Many survivors have faced challenges in using these features when someone else orders the ride for them, their phone is dead or lost, or they are incapacitated. While Uber claims that the rate of sexual assault reported on the app decreased between 2017 and 2020, the total number of incidents in certain categories, such as nonconsensual touching and rape, has increased.

Additional Demands for Safety

Survivors in the lawsuit are also demanding that Uber implement driver training on interactions with passengers, adopt a zero-tolerance policy for drivers regarding sexual harassment, provide sexual harassment education and training, and establish a more efficient system to encourage customer reporting and monitor complaints.

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