Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick has published an official statement on the Delhi rape case
“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.” [blogpost]
The problem with Uber is very fundamental in nature : The company is just looking at tick marking the legal rules.
First, it’s not about New Delhi. This can happen anywhere. You can’t localize these serious problems and run away by taking a higher position (“to help make <blah city> a safer city for women.”).
Secondly, Uber’s driver onboarding is totally fucked. Here is how:
1. There is NO background check of driver. The background check is only for the owner.
Normally, an owner owns 3-5 car, and hire 5-6 people in shifts. Drivers sometime hand over cabs to other drivers/share cabs as they are highly incentivized to keep the
show vehicles running (you get Rs. 1,000 if you do more than 10 trips).
Customers, on the other hand trust Uber (and similar companies) assuming that the drivers are checked for criminal offence. In fact, security is and SHOULD BE the least of worry.
But in case of most of the online cab companies, safety seems to be the last priority and is mostly used as a marketing tool.
2. Everything is based on phone app, which one can easily shutdown or can be shutdown, which is what happened in the Delhi case.
In case of other operators like Olacabs, the phone is fit in the fleet itself.
In the case of Uber, it is at driver’s whims and fancies. There is no call center / support number to reach out to incase an untoward incident happens. That is, a faceless and contacless organization!
3. Uber pooling is a JOKE on security.
There is no verification of user!!
You can pool & get robbed (or whatever) anytime by anybody.
Ofcourse, one can’t blame Uber for all – a large part of blame lies with the government and lack of policies on background checks (lack of online/central repository).
But having said that, technology is meant to improve our lives and CANNOT be the vehicle for us to compromise our lives in the name of ‘convenience’.
To Uber and others, it’s time to get human and own up. You are charging a premium in the name of ‘safety’ and that’s just a fucking eyewash.
– Read : A Look at T&C Of Indian Cab Operators.
For now, you are better off buying your own car!