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Smart cities

Ride-sharing apps Uber and Didi equate surveillance with safety

After a passenger was murdered on May 6, Chinese ride-sharing provider Didi Chuxing says it’s considering recording trips made using its platform.

How it would work: Passengers would trigger the audio and video recordings by pressing an SOS button in the Didi app, and a customer representative would monitor them in real time.

Backstory: The move is a response to public outcry after a young woman who used Didi’s carpooling service was found dead after her driver allegedly propositioned her. Didi’s app had social features designed to help people identify fellow commuters, but drivers reportedly used it to gauge physical appearance when selecting passengers.  

Why it matters: Chinese consumers tend to accept surveillance technologies more readily than those in other societies, but driver assaults on ride-sharing passengers are a global problem. If Didi adopts recordings as a safety measure, other ride-hailing companies are likely to follow. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently told the Washington Post that his company is considering capturing video of Uber trips to convince consumers that it’s “the safest mobility platform around.”

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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