Uber's first safety review contains thousands of sexual assault reports

Along with the two-year report, Uber revealed changes it's making in response.

Over the last few years Uber -- among other ridesharing services -- has been accused of failing to respond adequately to reports of sexual assault and other crimes linked to those on its platform. Now the company has released its first safety report (PDF), along with a number of notes about steps it's taking to make things safer for passengers and drivers.

The nearly 6,000 reports of sexual abuse Uber said it has received over 2017 and 2018, or the 19 fatal physical assaults jump out of the pages of the lengthy report. While Uber correctly notes that even these are from just a fraction of a percent of the 2.3 billion trips taken during that period, each one is devastating for those involved.

While the report, commissioned two years ago by current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, also accurately describes the problems as pervasive throughout society, it doesn't extend to an explanation of why methods for reporting and dealing with these issues is something that's happening after billions of trips, instead of before.

Uber mentioned developments like its In-app safety button, as well as new changes. It will share the names of deactivated drivers with other platforms for the first time, so they can't just start taking on passengers somewhere else, and next year it will expand sexual misconduct education training for drivers in a partnership with RAINN that will also include the creation of a Survivor Support hotline "that will provide confidential crisis support and specialized services to survivors."

Changes you'll see in the app will include an option for a four digit PIN that helps drivers and riders verify each other, the national rollout of the ability to report non-safety issues during a ride and text-to-911 support within the app for both riders and drivers, as riders make up nearly half the accused parties on serious sexual assault categories.

Uber plans to release these reports every two years, and hopefully the changes it's making, as well as a focus on dealing with these kinds of issues, means there's a lot less to talk about in the next one.

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