Lilian Min
September 25, 2016 9:43 am

Uber and other ridesharing apps are necessarily connected to smartphone technology — after all, the backbone of their business rests on the GPS-enabled responses only possible through the proliferation of smartphones in the general population. But now Uber drivers are participating in another smartphone-driven movement, and for a surprisingly fantastic reason.

Uber drivers are now being asked to snap selfies to verify their identities as part of a new safety program.

The program, dubbed the Real-Time ID Check, is meant to confirm a driver’s live headshot to the one that they’ve uploaded into their driver profile. That way, there’s another security measure in place making sure that your driver is who they say they are. Uber’s gotten some press about their seemingly not stringent driver requirements and the actions of drivers themselves (who technically aren’t Uber employees, giving the company itself legal but not public opinion buffer room); the Real-Time ID Check is a way of making sure that at the very least, the person who claims to be driving you is actually that person.

In my own experience, not every Uber or Lyft (the two ridesharing apps I use) driver even uploads their photo in the first place. Making that a mandatory part of the driver profile should be a mandate that’s enforced; extra steps like Real-Time ID Check would then be another layer of accountability. Of course, facial recognition technology is not a perfect science, but at the very least, it can offer a passenger the comfort that the person driving is who they say they are, and offer a driver the chance to work their angles. Kidding — but on a heavier note, there’s probably a thorny debate about privacy within this new initiative. Coupled with the fact that passengers don’t have to do the same verification as of now and likely won’t be asked to, we’re curious as to how drivers feel about the new protocol.

As of now, the Real-Time ID Check isn’t in action for all Uber drivers yet, but the next time you see your driver snapping a selfie before beginning your ride, know that it’s a company order meant for your protection. And for those of you reading who are rideshare drivers, it looks like you’re going to be taking a lot more selfies in the future.

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