Uber has introduced a new safety feature for riders (and drivers) in Canada: the optional feature allows either to securely record audio during a trip. The purpose is to help reduce instances of on-trip incidents.
The feature can be set up by either riders or drivers using the Safety Toolkit in the app. Once enabled, simply tap the blue shield icon on the map screen and hit “Start” under “Record Audio.” You can start or stop a recording at any time during a trip. If the recording is not manually stopped by the rider once the trip is over, it will automatically stop shortly after the trip is completed.
Naturally, privacy is of the utmost concern with a feature like this. Uber says that once a recording is complete, the audio file is encrypted and stored on the rider’s or driver’s device. It cannot be listened by anyone, including Uber, unless a safety incident is report with regards to that specific ride. If you need to report a safety incident, or even an uncomfortable situation, do so in the app and attach the audio file, which will then be reviewed by Uber’s “specialized safety support team.” Only in such cases will be the file by decrypted and a trained safety agent will review it to make a judgement call and go from there in terms of determining the proper course of action.
“We are thrilled to launch this important safety feature across Canada,” says Michael van Hemmen, General Manager of Uber Canada Mobility. “We’re always looking for ways to leverage our innovative technology to build features that help make Uber safer. We hope this audio recording feature will help give riders and drivers peace of mind by encouraging comfortable and positive interactions while on trips.”
The audio recording feature was first introduced in Latin American in 2019 and was rolled out as a pilot project in Calgary in November 2022. It is now live in more than a dozen countries. According to Uber, the feature has been used to investigate issues, and “the majority of riders and drivers” in those cities said it helped them “feel safer when using Uber.”
Originally launched in Latin America in 2019, the audio recording feature is currently live in more than a dozen countries. It was rolled out as a pilot in Calgary in November 2022. We’ve seen instances where the audio file has helped determine the best course of action after a safety incident, and the majority of riders and drivers in these cities told us this feature helped them feel safer when using Uber.
This poses an interesting question: if there’s an incident between two shared riders, another new feature Uber recently rolled out, and not a driver and rider, will Uber decrypt the file for local police investigations? The feature would also require giving Uber access to the microphone on your phone which could be a concern for some. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting feature that’s worth weighing the benefits and potential drawbacks before trying it out.
You can learn more about how this new safety feature works on the Audio Recording information page.