Uber has started to continuously monitor its US drivers for new criminal offenses, a move intended to ensure passenger safety and peace of mind.
The company said Friday it is rolling out technology that allows it to know in real time when a driver is charged with a crime. The company said it has removed 25 drivers from the platform since launching the effort earlier this month.
Following a CNN investigation into passenger sexual assault or abuse of passengers from by rideshare drivers, Uber announced in April it will conduct annual background checks and invest in the technology needed to learn about criminal offenses as they happen.
Before announcing the change, Uber lacked a uniform process for revisiting criminal background checks. That meant any criminal allegations against a someone might go unnoticed after they started driving.
CNN’s investigation, published in April, found that more than 100 Uber drivers had been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the past four years. The drivers were arrested, are wanted by police, or have been named in civil suits related to the incidents.
Uber is now working with software company Appriss to obtain data about arrests from local governments and Checkr, the company that performs Uber’s background checks, to alert the company to these new arrests. Uber then decides whether to let a driver continue working. Axios broke the news Friday.
Uber expects to complete the tech rollout later this summer.
“Safety is essential to Uber and we want to ensure drivers continue to meet our standards on an ongoing basis,” Gus Fuldner, vice president of safety and insurance at Uber, said in a statement to CNN. “This new continuous checking technology will strengthen our screening process and improve safety.”
Uber and Lyft use Checkr for the majority of their background checks. The company uses individuals’ names and Social Security numbers to search a national sex offender database, federal and local court records, and databases used to flag suspected terrorists.
Safety experts continue to urge Uber to take additional steps, such as conduct in-person interviews and perform fingerprint checks — something taxi companies already require of their drivers.
Uber says fingerprint checks refer to past arrests, which can have discriminatory effects on minority communities that face disproportionately high arrest rates.
The company continues to stress its commitment to preventing and ending sexual assault.
In May, following CNN’s investigation, Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West announced a series of policy changes around how company deals with sexual harassment and assault reports. For example, the company said it will no longer force into arbitration passengers who allege they’ve been sexually assaulted or harassed by drivers.
“It’s only by accounting and acknowledging [reports] that we are empowered to take action in reducing the incidents of sexual assault,” West told CNN at the time. “We want to bring these numbers out in the open. We want people to acknowledge the enormity of the issue, and we want us to begin to think of constructive ways to prevent and end sexual assault.”
The company has also committed to publishing a “safety transparency report” to make the public aware of how many sexual assaults and other incidents occur on its platform.