Uber Is a Public Place

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Since its establishment nearly ten years ago, Uber has become an overwhelmingly popular mode of transportation that has garnered international success. In many cases, Uber has become people’s go-to transportation method when in need of a cheap, quick ride, whether it be an alternative to the expensive taxi while in New York City or a local option of travel when one’s ride suddenly becomes unavailable. However, while Uber has maintained a reputation as a dependable company, any avenue that confines strangers to a small space like a car can be potentially dangerous for the parties involved.

In attempt to alleviate potentially dangerous interactions with drivers and passengers, Uber has allowed drivers to install video cameras to record exchanges in the case something inappropriate occurs. While this rule is put in place to ensure the safety of Uber drivers and passengers alike, many people, uncomfortable with being recorded, feel that it is a violation of privacy. Often a car ride is an opportunity for people to engage in private conversations, and many feel uneasy having these interactions on video.

However, when considering the vulnerability a person may have when entering a stranger’s car, passengers should treat Uber rides with more professionalism than an ordinary car ride, which means people may have to forsake their sacred gossiping time. Junior Arpie Bakhshian states, “I understand the point that recording people is an invasion of privacy, but you should not have to worry about how you are being viewed on camera as long as you are acting like a respectful human being.”

The Ottawa Senators, a professional ice hockey franchise recently saw themselves entrenched in controversy over this debate after a video was released showcasing seven of their players in an Uber having a private conversation, which expressed negative comments about their assistant coach and derided their team overall. Many were quick to condemn the Uber driver for recording the players without their consent; however, in the state of Arizona, where the incident occurred, the Uber driver was undoubtedly in the realm of his rights to record his passengers. In fact, criticizing the Uber driver is a mere deterrent that prevents people from acknowledging the players’ wrongdoings by unfavorably commenting about their franchise in a public setting. Ultimately, Ubers should be viewed as a public venue, like trains, buses, and planes alike to ensure both drivers and passengers maintain a level of professionalism and respect.

Uber drivers are recording passengers not to be creepy but for their own protection. In the event that verbal or physical assault ensues, or even a potentially more dangerous incident, the driver has indisputable evidence of the occurrence. Additionally, a dashboard camera can serve as a witness in the case of an accident and allows the driver to reach an accurate settlement based on the liability of the incident. Explicit evidence can also protect against false allegations. Often, if a passenger makes an accusation against his/her Uber driver, the resulting legal case comes down to one person’s word against another’s. The dashboard camera eliminates the risk of innocent parties being wrongfully prosecuted. This occurrence is important not just in the incident that befalls, but also on a larger scale, as decreasing the frequency of false allegations of assault will increase the likelihood that real victims are believed and their perpetrator be jailed.

And while often not considered, video recording devices increases the safety of the passenger as well. Junior Rachel Campanile states, “Why would an Uber driver act inappropriately when he is knowingly recording himself?” There have been a myriad of incidents leaving passengers subjected to abusive behavior by their Uber driver. According to a CNN article (money.cnn.com) article entitled, “CNN Investigation: 103 Uber Drivers Accused of Sexual Assault or Abuse,” over the past four years, at least 31 Uber drives have been convicted of crimes relating to sexual assault. Dashboard cameras can only help mitigate this alarming issue and provide the passenger with a sense of confidence when entering the car of a stranger.

Thus, with the realm of danger that Uber can bring, privacy must be sacrificed to ensure the safety of each customer. In fact, even entering a stranger’s car strips one of all the “privacy” he/she can practice. Simply put, dashboard cameras do nothing more than hold people to a standard of decency that should already be expected of them in this chaotic world.

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