Uber’s Record My Ride feature is expanding to even more cities across the United States. The feature gives both passengers and drivers the ability to easily record audio during a trip in an effort to boost safety for both parties involved.
Record My Ride is a safety feature from Uber that helps drivers and passengers document what’s happening during a trip if either party becomes uneasy or feels threatened. Using the Uber app, drivers and passengers can record audio to submit to the company in a safety report.
The feature was first piloted in 2019 in different countries in Latin America, before it was brought to Raleigh-Durham, Louisville, and Kansas City in the U.S. at the tail end of 2021. Uber claims that 70% of riders and drivers in Brazil’s Rio De Janeiro reported feeling safer while using the feature. While Uber can’t bring Record My Ride to the entirety of the U.S. since recording laws vary from state to state, the company expanded the feature to Cincinnati, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Tucson in November 2022.
At the same time, Uber revealed it was working on a dashcam-like video recording feature as part of a pilot program that included drivers in Cincinnati, Louisville, New York City, and Santos and João Pessoa in Brazil.
Record my Ride will only appear when you are a passenger or driver in an active ride. For passengers, tap the blue shield button in the bottom right corner of the map view during your ride to open the Safety Toolkit, and select Record Audio from the menu. Uber will immediately begin recording audio of your trip with your phone. For drivers, the blue shield icon is located in the bottom left of the map view.
Uber says that the audio you record will remain on your phone and will stay encrypted until you file a report to Uber’s Safety Team, and add the audio as an attachment. Likewise, the company says that the passenger will get a notification when they are matched with a driver that has the feature turned on, and vice versa. Uber confirmed to Gizmodo in an email that the video recording feature works the same way. There is also the ongoing concern of a tech company collecting more data from its users to use in some way later on.
“Uber already has this treasure trove of highly personal data about people,” said Camille Fischer, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in The New York Times. “When you pair surveillance during those trips, whether it’s over the driver or over the passenger, you are getting a more fine-tuned snapshot of people’s daily lives.”
“From the start, our goal was to design this feature in a way that keeps the recordings secure and protects the privacy of all parties involved.” said Uttara Sivaram, Head of Privacy and Security Public Policy, in a statement emailed to Gizmodo. “That’s why we built this feature to immediately encrypt the audio file and store it directly on the user’s phone, ensuring that no one, not even Uber, is able to access the recording unless a user submits it to us to review.”
Regardless, Uber’s voyage into video and audio recording are born from reports of violence occurring in rides, in which drivers and passengers are often isolated from outside help. A driver in East Bay, California was brutally attacked by a passenger in early 2023, resulting in a $20,000 hospital bill. Uber is also the focus of a lawsuit waged against the company over reports of women being sexually assaulted by drivers as early as 2014.
Update March 17 3:10 p.m. EST: This article was updated to include additional information and a quote from Uber Head of Privacy and Security Public Policy.