Embattled ride sharing service Uber is trying desperately to find ways to reassure people that it is safe after many of its drivers around the world had been charged with rape and assault. It has introduced a new “SOS button” in parts of India with which riders can call for help in case of an emergency.
While intended to help the people who use its service feel safer, the new button’s very existence may only serve to remind riders that Uber drivers are not necessarily trustworthy.
India is especially sensitive to the problem as an Uber driver was accused of raping a woman passenger in New Delhi last December.
In a blog post yesterday the company explained that the button will enable people to immediately connect with local law enforcement on the phone.
A real-time ‘SOS alert’ is automatically generated and sent directly to the local Police control room.
Now only available in Kolkata, Uber expects to expand the service into other parts of India in the near future.
The company stated, “We welcome the opportunity to partner with more Police departments around the country to ensure your safety, and encourage law enforcement agencies to embrace new technology and improve accountability and traceability in urban mobility.”
In other Uber news, the company has gone to court in the State of Texas to prevent the media from gaining access to what it feels are confidential materials. The company has been lobbying for a change of laws in that state to allow it operate all over Texas. It now only operates in Houston.
Uber does not want the media to find out exactly how many drivers it has in Houston, who they are and the volume of the business that they do. It has stated that information about its “driver partners” is considered confidential and proprietary.