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Uber, Lyft Drivers Accused of 92 Sexual Assaults this Summer

During the summer of 2017, news stories reported 92 new allegations of sexual assault against Uber and Lyft drivers.

Ninety-two.

Here’s why this distressing stat is important.

Since Uber and Lyft began operating, the corporations have opposed the longstanding method of driver screening: fingerprint-based criminal background checks conducted by law enforcement.

Instead, Uber and Lyft have attempted to convince lawmakers they have a handle on screening using private background checks and whiz-bang tech.

Wonderful, dazzling technology. (This is what Uber wants you to focus on).

The problem is this number, 92.

According to RAINN, two-thirds of sexual-assault victims don’t report the crime to the police.

And, obviously, not every victim’s story generates media coverage.

Ergo this number, 92, represents a portion of the total victims. Beyond this number are those who never reported their attacks to police, and the additional victims who did report but didn’t end up in news stories.

Charles Carroll is high-profile executive for private background check company, MorphoTrust USA, which handles sensitive background checks for government agencies, including TSA pre-checks. Carroll’s position as spokesperson for a private background check company is highly relevant because Uber and Lyft have relied on private-background-check providers to convince lawmakers to allow them to use private name-based checks.

As a representative of a private provider of background checks, Carroll is in the unique position of being precisely able to compare name-based versus fingerprint checks.

Carroll recently published an opinion piece saying Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, now has an opportunity to “re-think” the company’s prior resistance to fingerprint background checks.

Carroll lays out four key reasons why Uber and Lyft’s private name-based background checks are inferior to fingerprint checks:

  • First, since name-based checks lack biometric identifiers (fingerprints) screeners can’t definitively tie the applicant to the background check. They can be passed by fraud (fake name).
  • Second, because names, addresses and birth dates are not unique, this raises the possibility of false negatives (applicants getting mistakenly cleared) and false positives (applicants mistakenly linked to another’s record).
  • Third, because the FBI’s database is not accessed, there is no true national search performed.
  • Fourth, Carroll notes that the universality of fingerprints allows for optimal information-sharing among law-enforcement agencies.

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This summer’s 92 alleged sexual assaults by Uber and Lyft drivers (and most likely more) belies Uber and Lyft’s claims that their name-based private background checks can keep riders safe.

Definition of “belie”: to disprove, debunk or discredit.

Because of these reported assaults—and because this number will likely continue to rise—Uber and Lyft should stop fighting lawmakers who are trying to protect riders by requiring more rigorous fingerprint background checks conducted by government and law enforcement.

92: The technology-is-magic way has failed to protect passengers.

Soon enough, we’ll soon see how the new Uber CEO responds to this policy question.

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