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Uber to let users record audio of rides in Brazil, Mexico

A banner for Uber is draped on the front of the New York Stock Exchange before the world’s largest ride-hailing service holds its initial public offering on May 10, 2019. (Associated Press)
A banner for Uber is draped on the front of the New York Stock Exchange before the world’s largest ride-hailing service holds its initial public offering on May 10, 2019. (Associated Press)
By Cathy Bussewitz Associated Press

NEW YORK – Uber will let passengers and drivers record audio of their rides in an attempt to improve its safety record.

The ride-hailing company plans to pilot the feature in cities in Brazil and Mexico in December. It eventually hopes to launch it in other markets including the United States, although it has no timeline for possible expansion.

The feature will allow customers to opt into recording all or select trips. Recordings will be encrypted to protect privacy, and users can later share the recording with Uber, which will have an encryption key, if they want to report a problem.

Uber has struggled with safety issues and faced accusations that some of its drivers have assaulted and raped passengers. It also has been hit with litigation alleging that its hiring process and background checks are inadequate. Uber does not conduct fingerprint-based background checks, which traditional taxi companies generally perform before hiring drivers.

The San Francisco-based company’s drivers also have been victims of attacks. In both Brazil and Mexico, Uber allows riders to pay with cash, which increases the risk of incidents. In Brazil, drivers have been robbed and have suffered violent, fatal attacks while using the Uber platform, the company said in a federal filing.

Uber plans to release a safety report this year which provides data on reports of sexual assaults and other safety incidents that occurred in the United States.

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