Uber's performance in Brazil has become a target of criticism in the international press. An article published by The Business Insider, based on data from The New York Times, accuses the company of having used "loose identification requirements", leading to the death of at least 16 drivers who accepted cash-paid races. According to the publication, a more advanced method of passenger identity verification was slow to arrive, even as violence increased.
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The report states the number was discovered by reporter Mike Isaac of The New York Times for a book to be released on the subject. In his research, Isaac ponders that, besides a telephone or email number, Uber, until recently, required no verification of passenger identity. Therefore, anyone could create an account to call a car.
At least 16 Uber drivers have already been killed by passengers who have requested cash payment Photo: Divulgao / Uber
The Business Insider article also says that in the face of obvious security flaws, criminals in Brazil were playing "Uber Roulette", looking for a driver who would accept cash payments to commit crimes. The New York Times has written that, even as violence increased, Uber maintained for a long time the policy of asking for little data for a passenger to register on the platform.
At TechTudo, driver Evaldo Neto said he believes Uber still lacks security and driver support. He is not afraid of taking paid cash races, but the fear of suffering some form of workplace violence exists. "In Rio de Janeiro there are areas occupied by criminal groups, which offer a greater security risk of all. In these areas and their surroundings it is impossible not to feel fear, especially at night and especially at dawn," he says.
Another driver, who did not want to identify himself, said he usually picks up the cash-paid races, but first checks the passenger's note in the app. "Malicious people often cheat an account to apply. So, the 5-star rating. Almost always accepted, but paying close attention to the place of application," he reveals.
She is also afraid to transit areas considered at risk. "I think the travel-sharing functionality is important, but in order for the driver to be safe from dangerous places, I think Uber could release destination information when accepting a request," he suggests.
Passengers also report fear
But it's not just the drivers who fear for their own safety inside Uber. Passengers also tell problematic cases involving the app. One victim, who declined to be named, said she requested a race at 10 pm late last year. As she was used to going the same way every day, she noticed when the driver changed the route. She warned and said she could guide him, but noticed that the man had turned and continued to turn her around and into slums.
An hour after the start of the race, the driver stopped in a totally deserted area. "I was already in the thousandth order to get out of the car. He said, 'Now what are we doing?'" He was insinuating at me with his legs spread and physically approaching.
The victim had no cell phone signal, no network and stunned. She then lied that her boyfriend lived across the street. It was only that the driver unlocked the door. As he got out of the car, he found a group and told what had happened. "They put me in a car from 99 to my initial destination," he says. She tried to press charges at the police station but was discouraged by the police. It was then that he contacted Uber, who returned the value of the race and stated that the driver was disconnected from the platform.
Another case happened to a woman, who also preferred not to identify herself. She says she was making a fast trip in the early hours of the morning to a city she didn't know very well. "I should do it in five minutes at the most because at that time there was no one on the street. The driver started complimenting me, talking about my perfume and my accent," he says.
She says the man was walking very slowly down the street and asked him to be faster. "He kept asking me, 'Why? Let's go for a walk. I can't go faster than that, it's in traffic.' But there was no car in front and it was all pitch black," he says.
The victim began to get nervous and noticed that the driver was hinting that he would pull the car into an area with several motifs. She confronted him, but the man kept inviting her for a walk, claiming that the journey was too fast and that it would be early. Then the woman picked up the phone and pretended to call her boyfriend.
She simulated a conversation, pretending the boy would be waiting for her at the airport. "I said the driver was taking too long to drop me off at the destination and thought the car was in trouble, so I was going to be late. When I did that, he finally dropped me off at the airport. But he stopped, pulled over and stayed looking at me ", he remembers.
The victim reported the incident to Uber still in line at the airport and received a call a few minutes later. It is not certain, however, whether the driver has been permanently expelled from the platform. "They said they were going to block so that I would never cross him again, which wouldn't be easy either, since I was in another city. But they blocked, they gave me back the value of the race and I became Uber VIP," he says.
TechTudo contacted Uber to find out the number of drivers and passengers who were already killed on duty or using the app. We also question what measures are taken to avoid problems with the safety of users and professionals. The company manifested itself through a note. Read below in full:
Safety is a priority for Uber, so the company continues to invest constantly in new technologies and processes. Uber has been working permanently to make its platform as safe as possible for fellow users and drivers, which was reinforced after its current CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, made security the company's top priority.
As part of these efforts, the company implemented in Brazil its first Latin America Tech Center – which is also the first in the world with an initial focus on security solutions, and has been working on the development of part of these new solutions.
Since last year, Uber has adopted in Brazil the machine learning feature, which uses technology to block trips considered riskier. This tool uses algorithms that automatically learn from the data and blocks potentially riskier trips unless the user provides additional identification details.
The company has also launched a tool that harnesses safety features for partner drivers, which includes a button to call police in risk or emergency situations directly from the app. The driver can also share the location, route and arrival time, in real time, with anyone who wishes.
More recently, Uber announced a partnership with Serasa Experian to validate the identification information of app users who want to pay their travels in cash only. The check tool, called U-Check, was the first to be developed by the newly formed Tech Center team of engineers installed by the company in So Paulo.
The app also allows travel requests to be canceled by partner drivers whenever they do not feel safe.
If the user needs to contact the driver or vice versa, their telephone number is kept confidential, preserving privacy on both sides. Messages sent through the app chat that may be considered offensive or threaten the integrity of a person automatically enter a process of permanent account deactivation.
As always, all trips are recorded by GPS, which allows Uber to collaborate with the authorities, under the law, in case of need. We have a team that specializes in relationships with law enforcement authorities and cooperates in investigations, always respecting Brazilian law.
Finally, our partners have an 0800 telephone number to register and request Uber support after they have reported incidents to the authorities and are safe – for example, in case of the need to trigger APP Insurance that covers personal accidents at all times. travels. Uber offers its partners free insurance coverage of up to R $ 100,000 in case of personal accidents that occur during their deliveries and a reimbursement of up to R $ 15,000 in medical expenses. Uber has a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week security expert support team that reviews individually on a case-by-case basis and can ban users or drivers who have a poor average rating or conduct that violates the terms from the platform. of use.
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