Sunday, 7 December 2014

Is Uber's Security Reliable, first the God View Tool and now the rape of a Delhi girl by its driver

Is Uber's Security Reliable, first the God View Tool and now the rape of a Delhi girl by its driver

Uber came to the public view with a sound revenue stream, right plan of action and a great management team.  But as time goes by, Uber is more in news for its security mishaps rather than good performance.  
Is Uber's Security Reliable, first the God View Tool and now the rape of a Delhi girl by its driver

Only a week ago, a researcher, GironSec found out that Uber's Android App (and maybe iPhone App too) was reporting Uber's customers user confidential data back to the Uber terminal without users explicit approval/permission.  

He has decompiled the code of the Uber Android app and found it to be collecting and sending the following information back to Uber:
Is Uber's Security Reliable, first the God View Tool and now the rape of a Delhi girl by its driver

And on Friday night, a 27-year old woman in Delhi was allegedly raped inside a cab which she had booked using Uber. 

As per the preliminary reports coming out of New Delhi, The finance professional had hired the Uber cab after attending a party from Gurgaon to go home.  After a while, she fell asleep in the back only to find herself in a secluded area.  The cab driver then then proceeded to sexually assault her.  Later he dropped her home and warned her of dire consequences if she approached the police. 

Uber's Statement 

Uber India issued a statement post the incident. “We became aware of the incident this morning. Safety is Uber’s highest priority and we take situations like this very seriously. We are working with the police as they investigate, and will assist them in any way we can to determine what happened. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following allegations of a serious incident, which we have done. In India, we work with licensed driver-partners to provide a safe transportation option, with layers of safeguards such as driver and vehicle information, and ETA-sharing to ensure there is accountability and traceability of all trips that occur on the Uber platform.”

This isnt the first rape case involving Uber

Back in 2013, a 20-year old rider was allegedly raped in Washington DC whilst riding with a vehicle booked using Uber and there is another instance of Uber driver sexually assaulting a female passenger in Chicago. Both cases had created huge furore in USA and forced Uber to come up with a comprehensive security policy for women.

Uber has to really answer some serious questions relating to its security policy.  As per Uber’s US website, there is a three-step screening process before a driver is hired. 

In the Delhi rape case, the driver had used a false identity, yet he was in the employ of Uber.  Further the police found that the Uber cab used by the fashion professional didnt have a GPS fitted in it. So how exactly is Uber screening its drivers and deploying its cabs. The rape cases in USA force Uber to come out with drastic changes in its security policies and a full website detailing its stand security policy but the India's Uber doesnt have any such webpage dedicated to security.  Is it that, Uber considers India any less vulnerable to sexual assaults or lesser important to its business planning.

In the view of above,  Uber may have to come out with a open ended security policy and a detailed driver checklist with every cab fitted with GPS, before the Indians could actually trust Uber.

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