Uber plans tighter screening for drivers

Washington - Online taxi service Uber Technologies, which had a driver was accused of rape in New Delhi, said it was exploring adding new methods to verify drivers' credentials and make its service safer.

Uber has started research and development on biometrics and voice verification to build tools for enhanced driver screening, Phillip Cardenas, the company's global safety, head wrote in a blog.

The start-up was also exploring new ways to screen drivers, including polygraph tests and adding its own processes on top of commercial license verifications.

"Of course, no background check can predict future behaviour and no technology can yet fully prevent bad actions," Cardenas said. "But our responsibility is to leverage every smart tool at our disposal."

In the US, Uber's background-verification process includes checks of court records going back seven years; a multi-state criminal database; and the National Sex Offender Registry, according to Uber policy posted on its website. Activities that disqualify potential drivers include sexual offenses, violent crimes and gun-related infractions.

Aggressive approach

But that is not the case internationally, where records are not always kept for the same categories of data as in the US, or treated with rigor.

"In some countries the integrity of the data can be compromised as individuals may be able to pay monetary fees to have their records adjusted," said a spokesperson from the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.

The San Francisco-based firm also said it was building safety incident response teams to provide round-the-clock support.

Uber has been dogged by controversy surrounding its aggressive approach to local governments and traditional taxi services.

The company's business practices have come under scrutiny, with some customers alleging privacy violations, as it has grown rapidly around the world in recent months.

France, Spain and Thailand have banned some or all Uber services. The company's services have also been banned in New Delhi following the rape allegation.

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