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Uber hides drivers, riders' phone numbers in privacy boost

Janet Kemboi
East Africa Uber Spokesperson Janet Kemboi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA  

Taxi-hailing firm Uber has introduced a new privacy feature that conceals rider and driver phone numbers in a move meant to boost the security and discretion of both parties.

Uber activated the anonymisation feature Thursday, adding to the raft of measures the firm has introduced since 2016 to increase safety of riders and drivers. Riders calling from the in-app feature will only see an automatic number and not the actual numeral of the person on the other end.

“Phone number anonymisation is a safety precaution, ensuring that the privacy of both driver-partners and riders is considered at all times by using software to connect calls between a driver and a rider that anonymises both cell phone numbers,” said East Africa Uber Spokesperson Janet Kemboi.

“This complies with Uber’s Community Guidelines promoting mutual respect between riders and drivers by securing each identity and preventing either from contacting each other unnecessarily. Uber’s in-app feature allows for drivers and riders to text each other inside the app at no extra cost,” said Ms Kemboi.

Uber said that riders hailing on behalf of family or friends will be required to share contact details of the passenger through the in-app message feature.

“Uber’s in-app text and call feature allows for drivers and riders to text each other inside the app at no extra cost. Riders requesting on behalf of others and do not mind sharing their friends’ or relatives’ numbers with drivers can chat and share relevant contacts with drivers through the in-app text or call feature,” said Ms Kemboi.

Uber has since 2016 introduced a number of features to boost the security of riders and drivers. Earlier, the firm introduced the “share trip” function used by both riders and drivers to enable friends and family to keep track of their location as a way of ensuring security.

The firm also introduced a security feature that runs real-time checks every time drivers go online.

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