Uber and Lyft are teaming up to create a database of drivers who have been reported for instances of sexual assault and other crimes. The safeguard, which is being referred to as a sharing safety program, was unveiled on March 11.
The initial list ousts expelled drivers from both rideshare companies. In the future, however, it will also be open to other companies that deploy workers to perform services like delivering groceries or take-out food orders.
The company overseeing the database is HireRight, a specialist in background checks. Uber and Lyft chose to use a third-party to manage the database to avoid potential legal issues about the companies having access to information to each other’s personal data.
Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officers, and Jennifer Brandenburger, Lyft’s head of policy development, spoke to The Associated Press. Regarding the database, West said, “Lyft and Uber are competitors in a whole lot of ways, but on this issue of safety, we completely agree that folks should be safe no matter what platform they choose.”
This safety program comes nearly 15 months after Uber made the promise to increase passenger safety when it was revealed that more than 3,000 sexual assaults had been reported on its service in the United States in 2018.
According to Brandenburger, sharing the information about reported sexual assaults is crucial because victims of such crimes typically don’t file formal complaints with police. As a result, potentially dangerous drivers have been slipping through routine background checks that draw only upon legal records.
To protect passenger privacy, no rider information will be shared in the database and incidents that resulted in driver dismissal are listed in six broad categories including attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual touching of a sexual body part, non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part, non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, non-consensual sexual penetration, and fatal physical assaults. Companies will access to the clearinghouse information are encouraged to still consider hiring a driver on its service through their own investigation.
This new layer of protection for passengers was promoted by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network: “Sexual violence thrives in secrecy. Thanks to this initiative, perpetrators will no longer be able to hide or escape accountability by simply switching ridesharing platforms.”