September 29th, 2016 | Sterling
Uber Adds Selfies for Security
Ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft have grown in popularity in cities across the U.S. These services have become a convenient and cost-effective way to get around cities and towns. I used an ride sharing service for the first time earlier this month and found the experience a simple and enjoyable experience. It got me to the airport on time and at a much cheaper rate than I expected. I was so impressed with the service; I recommended using the service to a family member when they were in need of transportation after car issue.
Uber and Lyft pride themselves on using the most updated technology in their applications. In fact, Uber has started testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has hills, one-way streets and other challenges which make it a perfect place to test these cars. During the test, the self-driving cars will travel with safety drivers. Uber is constantly developing and testing new technology to prevent and reduce risks with its drivers and passengers. The New York Daily News described Uber as the “first major player in the automotive world to make biometrics a key part of its security infrastructure.”
Last week, Uber announced that it will require drivers to take a photo of themselves (or selfie) before signing on to the Uber platform and accepting new ride requests. The program, called Real-Time ID Check, uses Microsoft Cognitive Services to protect drivers and riders. The selfie will help ensure the driving using the app matches the account that Uber has on file. According to Joe Sullivan, Uber’s Chief Security Officer, “It is a way to prevent fraud and protects drivers’ accounts from being compromised. It also protects riders from building another layer of accountability into the app to ensure the right person is behind the wheel.”
The program has been in testing for several months with very good results. More than 99% of the drivers were ultimately verified. The majority of mismatches were due to unclear profile photos. Once the program is officially rolled out across the country, drivers will be periodically asked to take a selfie to verify their identity. Microsoft Cognitive Services will instantly compare the selfie with the profile photo on file. If the photos do not match, the account is temporarily blocked while Uber looks into the situation.
Selfie for Security
The self-photo system is a way for Uber to ensure riders are getting picked up by the right person. According to the Washington Post, there have been incidents where riders have been disconcerted after being picked up by a different driver than the one in the driver’s profile. Currently, Uber does not require fingerprint screening or face-to-face interaction with drivers before allowing them to start to accept riders. At the moment, there is no universal fingerprinting standard for ride hailing service drivers allowing each state setting their own screening rules. Because of this instability in fingerprinting regulations and requirements, a comprehensive name-based background check is a better alternative as it draws from a bigger pool of sources. Uber does require personal identifiable information including full name, date of birth, social security number and driver’s license number as part of their background check procedures.
Feeling safe and at ease when riding in Uber or Lyft vehicles is key to a good experience. Increased security procedures, including the selfie requirement, will help to give a passenger peace of mind. As ride-sharing applications continue to grow in popularity, it is the individual business’s responsibility to ensure they are properly screening their drivers. The technology continues to advance and change for both fingerprinting and comprehensive background checks. Find out more information between these two methods in our exclusive white paper here.
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