Ride-sharing app Uber is test-flighting a new feature in South Africa, starting this week. From 8 September, drivers and passengers will be able to initiate a recording of their trip via the app. This recording can be used as evidence in the event of a so-called “safety incident”.
The pilot program is only available for Uber drivers and users in Gauteng. If you’re in Johannesburg or Pretoria, you can record your trip (in case) from this Friday. Previously, the ride-sharing app launched a similar trial in both Americas (US of, and Latin).
Uber safety?

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There are two ways to activate the app’s recording function. It’s either chosen at the start of the ride if you’re the paranoid or ‘better safe than sorry’ sort. It’s also available during an Uber trip by tapping the shield on the app and selecting the ‘Record Audio’ prompt. You’d use this if a customer or driver starts ranting about bisexual bullfrogs or something equally loopy.
In order to preserve everyone’s safety, neither participant in the Uber trip will know the other has started recording. Neither can listen to it either, so you can’t mess with the driver and then start recording their reactions for social media clout. Instead, on-device recording is encrypted and inaccessible unless it’s uploaded as part of a safety report.
In those cases, an Uber agent receives and decrypts the file in order to conduct the investigation. That’s the only time that the app will access recordings, according to the company. Anything now uploaded as part of a report will be left alone.
The point of it all is to enhance safety for everyone. It’s not just drivers giving passengers grief. Those issues go both ways.
“Verbal altercations, sexual misconduct and other violations can be difficult to investigate without evidence, however, we are confident that through this new feature, will assist Uber in adjudicating such incidents to ensure that the appropriate action is taken,” said Kagiso Khaole, Uber GM for sub-Saharan Africa.
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