Uber’s Latest Security Measure Involves Selfies

Like Bumble, Uber will use facial recognition to verify driver identities

Photo Illustration: Diana Quach
Sep 23, 2016 at 5:21 PM ET

Uber has announced the expansion of a new plan that uses facial recognition software to ensure that the person who claims to be operating the car you ordered is really the same person coming to pick you up.

Its new Real-Time ID check will periodically require drivers to take a selfie using the app before beginning a shift in order to “prevent fraud and protect drivers’ accounts from being compromised.” The check will then use Microsoft Cognitive Services in order to match the selfie against the photo of the driver that Uber has on file. If the photos do not match, the account will be temporarily blocked from providing service pending investigation by the company.

In an interview with USA Today, Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan said that this practice will be used to ensure that the sharing of accounts between drivers or exploitation by theft (both of which are “low-frequency problems”) do not occur. The security measure was been tested with tens of thousands of drivers this past summer and has been accurate 99 percent of the time, with mismatches being attributed to unclear profile photos.

While Uber’s press release doesn’t give specific details as to where, or how often, these checks will be conducted, Sullivan said that algorithms will identify specific cases when it might be needed. (One good place to start might be China, where drivers have been scamming would-be passengers by using creepy profile pictures in order to ward them off and collect small cancellation fees.)

More Ghost Drivers In China Are Scaring Uber Riders Into Canceling Trips

The concept of a #SecuritySeflie may seem a little strange, but it’s a practice that appears to be gaining steam. Bumble is going to start having users take selfies in order to verify their identities and prevent catfishing. Selfies: turns out they’re good for more than just celebrating your own narcissism!