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Uber bows to pressure over sexism claims with button to report discrimination

Matthew Field
Uber is adding new safety features to stop discrimination - Uber

Uber has bowed to pressure over claims of discrimination in its taxi cabs, and will add a button to its app allowing both UK passengers and drivers to reportproblems.

The feature will let passengers report discrimination instantly. Uber said drivers who are reported could see their accounts permanently deactivated, while riders would face losing access to their account.

The addition of the button comes after repeated claims that passengers have faced sexism and discrimination based on their race, disabilities and  sexuality.

A 2016 report from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US found that female passengers were taken on longer, more expensive rides. This was down to “a combination of profiteering and flirting to a captive audience”, the report claimed. Black passengers, meanwhile, were made to wait 35pc longer for rides.

Another report by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, published in 2018, found that riders displaying LGBT symbols in their profiles were almost twice as likely to be refused rides.

Uber also announced it will be adding automatic crash detection into its app. The "RideCheck" feature will detect a crash using sensors in a smartphone using the Uber app. It can also detect a long stop, such as if a car has broken down. 

The app will then automatically direct the Uber driver to in-app safety features, such as an emergency button to call first responders or police. The ride-hailing firm added it will work with the AA on new safety training videos for drivers.

Jamie Heywood, regional general manager at Uber, said: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our customers.”

Uber has promised to release an annual transparency report, detailing the number of times riders believe they were sexually harassed. The first will be released later this year.

Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said last year: “I want Uber to be the safest transportation platform on the planet.”

Mr Khosrowshahi came under fire earlier this week after he dismissed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents as a “mistake”.