Uber molestation case: Firm lists out safety & security measures for riders

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New Delhi/Gurgaon, June 2: A day after the app-based taxi operator Uber was embroiled in a molestation case of a 21-year-old woman in Gurgaon, the firm on Tuesday, June 2 listed out various safety and security measures for riders.

On Tuesday, the Gurgaon police arrested the accused driver, identified as Vinod, a resident of Shahbad Mohammadpur Village in Dwarka area. Howver, he later got bail from a district court. [Uber driver arrested for molesting passenger, gets bail]

Uber

Here's the full text of the statement issued by Mr Gagan Bhatia,  the General Manager of Uber Delhi:

"Our team immediately reached out to the rider via phone within a few minutes of receiving the feedback after the trip and deactivated the driver partner pending a full investigation. We also proactively reached out to the Gurgaon Police yesterday to alert them of this incident even before a FIR had been lodged by the rider. This was done to ensure they were made aware that we have received a complaint alleging inappropriate behavior and were provided with a dedicated point of contact at Uber to assist with any investigations.

Over the last 36 hours we have worked closely with the Gurgaon Police to share all relevant information pertaining to the trip including vehicle and driver partner details, GPS trace, and feedback history, etc. In fact, our team also helped bring the driver partner to Sector 56 Police Station within an hour of the FIR being filed to ensure the investigating officers were able to speak with him immediately, record an official statement and expedite their investigation.

Safety of the Uber community is our highest priority and we would like to reiterate that Uber has a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behaviour and the driver partner involved in this case had a valid Public Service Vehicle (PSV) badge and commercial license issued in Delhi which had been authenticated by our team, as well as a valid Police Verification - all confirming this driver partner had no prior recorded history of any inappropriate conduct.

Over the past six months, we have launched a number of key safety initiatives in India. Those include re-verification of all driver partners with the police, additional background screening with First Advantage, and the establishment of a dedicated local Incident Response Team to handle critical situations. We've also announced additional in-app safety upgrades including an in-app ‘SOS button' so riders can immediately contact local police and alert the Uber support team to reach out in the rare event of an emergency.

Our teams continue to work tirelessly to make sure that the millions of trips we facilitate in India every month provide a safe option in every Uber city."

Timeline after the incident, as per Uber

  • According to Uber, the ride of the woman, who alleged molestation by the firm's cab driver, Vinod, ended at 11.33 pm on Saturday, May 30. [Another Uber driver accused of molesting female passenger]
  • At 11.48 pm, Uber received an email from her, narrating about the incident. The Uber claims that it immediately responded to the mail at 11.49 pm on Saturday night.
  • At 11.56 pm on the same night, Uber's customer care support called her to offer assistance, but her friend attended the call.
  • After the conversation, the woman received a follow up mail by the Uber officials at 1.34 am, May 31, Sunday.

What Uber has done to strengthen security and safety for riders:

  • Government licensing requirements for PSV badge.
  • Government licensing requirements for commercial vehicle license.
  • Bank KYC & address verification.
  • Complete driver and vehicle information in-app prior to starting trip (including driver name, photo, mobile number, vehicle type and license no).
  • Ability to share real-time GPS tracking and trip information with friends/ family.
  • Two-way feedback and rating system which allows riders to share critical feedback with Uber after every trip.

New safety measures introduced by Uber:

  • Police verification: Re-verifying all Uber Delhi driver-partners have an authentic and valid.
  • Document Verification: A local team of specially-trained safety experts to detect fraud, verify and authenticate driver / vehicle documents and test the validity of our screening.
  • Introduction of independent background screening by First Advantage.
  • Establish a local Incident Response Team.
  • Introduction of in-app safety upgrades and new features including Send Status and SOS button.
  • Developed a bespoke SOS alert solution for law enforcement authorities in India - this is ready for police to deploy in cities across India. The Bangalore police are ready to deploy this in a few weeks.

What happens today when you press the SOS button built into the Uber app?

  • Pressing the SOS button while on a trip not only connect riders (via phone) with local police who are best equipped to respond to an emergency situation but it also alerts Uber's support team who immediately contact the rider as well via phone.
  • The rider did not choose to use this or the Send Status feature, through which a rider's friends and family can track their ride in real time.

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