Uber introduces constant, real-time surveillance of drivers’ criminal records
Uber has made an agreement with an instant criminal data service in order to provide real time, continuous background checks, according to a report from Axios today. This initiative escalates Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s April announcement that the company would be conducting yearly (as opposed to bi-yearly) background checks.
Uber currently doesn’t boot drivers with nonviolent crime convictions. However, it’s unclear what the company’s protocol would be for people arrested on minor or civil offenses, who could perhaps be cleared of these charges later. For economically vulnerable people who rely on gig economy jobs like driving for Uber, rolling background checks triggered by an arrest alone could present an immediate danger to their economic stability.
Passenger safety — particularly the safety of women — is a persistent issue for Uber. There is currently no public database for crimes and sexual assaults by Uber drivers against their passengers, but a CNN investigation found that at least 103 Uber drivers were accused of assault, including sexual assault, in 2017.
According to Axios, the conducting these real-time background checks emails getting criminal data from the data company Appriss. Checkr — Uber’s current tool for background checks — will continue to conduct background checks using Appriss data.
According to Checkr’s website, the service checks for sex offenders, for county, state, and national convictions, for presence on any global watchlist, and count and federal civil records. Meanwhile, Appriss collects data about arrests in real time. If the employee of an Appris client has been arrested, Appriss knows within an hour and immediately tells the employer. It adds a layer of immediacy to Uber’s current system.
The Appriss website claims that the company has “direct connections” with more than 2,000 jail facilities in the U.S., giving it access to information about over 80 percent of all bookings, release dates, and charges descriptions in the country. The precise financial agreements between Appris and these jails isn’t publicly disclosed, nor is the proportion of private to public prisons disclosed.