We may all have a million and one reasons to dislike Uber after everything that has been happening. If you’ve not been following, let me fill you in:
- A former employee published this explosive blog on sexual harrasment and discirimination
- Google sued Uber for intellectual property theft
- Uber Investors blasted the company for bad culture
- And millions of blogs and videos on why the company is bad
But this post is about privacy, something I truly believe in.
I use Uber when I travel. And the experience is always fine for me. Only once did I have an issue when a driver said he couldn’t show up to pick me up and told me to cancel that trip.
Anyway, it is 2017 and the best way, I personally think, to identify a Kenyan (or any human being to be honest) is to know their full names and mobile phone number.
This sparked a thought in my head of just how potentially vulnerable we become when we use taxi services like Uber and Little.
If everyone in the world was a good person, then everything would be fine. And no one would worry about their privacy. But we live in another reality. Things aren’t always good, and so are people.
Most of us sign up for social media using our phone numbers. Finding someone online when you have their name and their number is not hard. And there are many threats that linger online nowadays.
If there exists someone with bad intentions who’s a driver with these taxi apps and you happen to ride on their car one time, they automatically get your information (including location) and may start harassing or disturbing you.
Even if you blacklist their numbers, they may find you online, or track you and continue their charade and little can be done to contain or stop them.
Which beg the question: What do companies like Uber and Little (powered by Safaricom) do to stop such things from happening? What measures do these companies put to ensure their drivers don’t keep the contacts of the riders they carry.
Yes, there are policies against contacting customers post ride. But what if this happens? What if these drivers for example get attracted (for normal or weird reasons) and contact these innocent customers?
What if they go to the point of bullying or harassing their previous riders?
All these questions are valid. But they also lead to the question: What can Uber or Little do?
I also don’t have an idea. I had this conversation with myself and even calling via an internet connection isn’t foolproof.
But the lack of an alternate method that can be used doesn’t mean the current state of affairs is good.
Anyway, this might not be a big issue with many Kenyans as we voluntarily give our information every day when we withdraw cash at agents or when we leave our information at gates and desks.
One of the biggest threats that can spring from the recklessness of how we handle our information is Identity Theft. And in Kenya, as very well outlined in this blog post, this is extremely easy.
Other threats many are exposed to are stalking, planned attacks, online harassment and bullying among many more vices.
What are your thoughts?