So I love Uber…I know that may sound contradictory considering I harp on about data privacy and the past troubles Uber has run into but stay with me. Let’s start by reiterating the fact that they completely reshaped the traditional ‘for hire’ cab services, and now they are also taking their infamous innovation in the verticals most closely linked to delivering said service, all good so far? Well not quite; security, has since the inception of Uber, looked to be their Achilles heel. These apparent weaknesses range from physical security e.g. driver inexperience, insurance challenges and most importantly the safety of its passengers’ person; to the security of the passengers information.
I find myself in a familiar dilemma, like many other consumers out there; I love companies like Uber that tailor to my personal needs making things super easy for my super busy lifestyle, but I am also super sensitive about how my information is treated, so how do I bridge this?
It definitely took me time to become the Uberlover that I am today, but the fact that I could now reach “public” transportation with a couple of swipes on my mobile phone was a big hooray. Second, the fact I no longer had to fumble for payment, make change or wait for enough connection bars on a relatively archaic debit/credit devices was also a ‘oh wow’ moment. Oh the dreaded times when coming back from a long flight home, followed by the long cab ride, only to stay in the backseat of the cab an extra 10 minutes in front of my house, while Johnny Everycab struggled to locate and operate his payment machine.
Okay, back to why to the real reason for bothering to put keyboard strokes to screen today. Uber has introduced new technology to better protect the personal information and increase overall consumer safety with, “one of a kind” technology as described by Mir Juned Hussain’s article published in IT Web&Tech news. To summarize, the interaction between driver and rider, will now allow for telephone numbers to be masked by a technology scheme called “Disguised Phone Numbers”. The article explains “The new tech innovation will ensure that any calls between riders and driver-partners are connected using anonymous phone numbers which will result into the fact that both the parties can interact with each other, coordinate a pick-up etc., without revealing any personal information”
The article also mentions that is just one of several initiatives to be put in place by Uber in recent months. Others include passenger re-verification, SOS Alert systems linked to local law enforcement and Send Status that allows sharing of geo-location and trip info. In effect, Uber has not only risen to the challenge of ensuring the safety of its passengers, it has far exceeded what is currently available within the traditional carrier’s repertoire.