As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the United States, Uber is taking additional precautionary measures in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus. Now, passengers who have refused to wear face coverings will be required to take a “mask selfie” before being able to request a car.
Since May, both rideshare drivers and passengers have been asked to wear masks. According to executives, the majority of people have followed the rules. However, not everyone has complied, which has led to the need for further action.
In an interview with ABC News, Sachin Kansal, Uber’s senior director of product management, said the following: “If we do have people who are still violating the policy, we want to be able to verify them with an extra step. And if they’re not wearing a mask, they will not be able to take a ride.”
The face detection technology that will be used was first implemented in May for Uber drivers. The software in the app has the ability to determine whether a driver is wearing a face covering based on the photo. If a covering is not detected, the driver cannot go online.
The software even has the ability to detect if the face covering is over the person’s nose. The company insists the face detection software does not use any biometric information. Uber stores the photos for approximately four days in case there are any issues, like a complaint.
While passengers have had to complete a checklist before getting into an Uber these past few months, they have not needed to take a photo of themselves wearing a mask until now. It’s important to note that not every rider will be asked for a “mask selfie.” Only those who have past violations on record when attempting to request a ride will be asked to take a photo.
The goal of requiring photo evidence is a reduction in reported violations. In the event compliance is still an issue, Uber will not hesitate to ban riders: “If we find that riders or drivers have been in violation of the policy, we will first educate them. We will send them emails. We want to make sure that they actually understand what the policy is. But if we see repeat violation, then we can take further action, including taking them off the platform.”
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