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Uber Increasing Background Checks of Drivers as FTC Expands its Data Privacy Settlement with Ride Sharing Company

As the popularity of Uber increases, so does the problems associated with the ride-hailing company.

Uber announced (April 12, 2018) that it will be conducting annual background checks on U.S. drivers, instead of just an initial check, as well as hire a company that will regularly monitor criminal arrests in an effort to keep riders safer.

According to the website, 49 deaths, 92 assaults and 363 sexual assaults have been attributed to Uber and Lyft drivers since 2013, and it says that "Uber doesn't even bother to meet with drivers in person before allowing them to ferry passengers." Uber began operating in the U.S. in 2009.

Last year the company was fined $8.9 million by the state of Colorado for allowing people with serious criminal or motor vehicle offense to work as drivers, including some with previous felony convictions or major traffic violations including drunken driving, according to a story by Associated Press.

The company's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia, told the press that Uber conducts 15 million trips daily worldwide. He also announced an app that will become available in a couple of weeks that will allow riders to share their ride information with others as a safety precaution as well as a button to call 911 that will immediately inform dispatchers of their location.

Uber also is set to hire a company called Checkr that will conduct annual background checks, but it will not do FBI fingerprint checks. The FBI monitors felonies but not misdemeanors.

The ride-sharing company also is facing issues with a 2016 data breach of more than 20 million users that is just now coming to light. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chastised Uber for failing to disclose the leak last year and sanctioned the company for a similar data breach that happened in 2014. The FTC took Uber to task for waiting more than a year after discovering the data breach that Bloomberg News revealed last November. It also was reported that Uber had even paid the data attackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep the breach quiet.

In the latest breach, Bloomberg News reported late last year that 25.6 million names and email addresses of U.S. riders and drivers were compromised as well as 22.1 million names and mobiles phone numbers and even hundreds of thousands of names and driver's license numbers had been hacked, according to the FTC complaint. As a result, last week Uber agreed to an expanded new settlement with the FTC over its privacy and data security services. Under the revised settlement, Uber must submit all of its privacy audits to the FTC, and it will face civil penalties if it fails to disclose another breach. 

Last year, Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was removed in June following accusations that the company created a hostile working environment for female employees. Khosrowshahi was named chief executive officer in August and promised a transparent management style.

As the brand continues to grow globally, the new CEO predicted last year that the company may go public in 18 to 36 months.

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