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Quick Take: Uber's Rollout of Audio Recording During Uber Rides and What It Means for Your Privacy

For all of our Uber subscribers, this past weekend you likely received an email notification titled “Prioritizing your safety with Audio Recording”. Below we break out the “need-to-know” features, additional safety considerations when traveling, and (again) highlight the importance of ‘microphone’ settings on mobile devices.

A woman used her mobile device while riding in an Uber.


What Is It?


As an added safety feature, Uber users can allow audio recording during Uber rides using the “Safety Toolkit”. Personally, I applaud the company for giving users (and parents everywhere) the option to feel more comfortable during their trips. Even better, the company maintains that all audio recordings are encrypted and stored securely on your device. Interestingly, these audio recordings are only available in the event that you report an incident and choose to share the recording; in other words, no one has access to that audio unless something happens (“not your driver, not Uber, not you”). While security and privacy are oftentimes polarized in today’s social media applications, Uber seems to be prioritizing consumer choice (for the rider) rather than an automatic opt-in with this feature.


What If My Driver Chooses to Enable Audio Recording During Uber Rides?


According to Uber’s communication notice, drivers also have the choice to record audio during trips. While the same privacy standards apply (i.e. no one has access to the recordings unless an incident is reported), riders will be notified that the driver has audio recording settings enabled while the driver is on the way. This allows the rider to cancel if they prefer to be in a different environment. For more, see Uber’s quick video tutorial here.


Safety Considerations


1. For many users of Uber’s services, you have to take work calls, meetings, or private conversations during the ride. In the FAQ section of this communication, Uber lets consumers know that the phone microphone will take over during a live phone call and “the recording will automatically stop”. This leaves a potential gap in recording, should an incident occur while you are on the phone (unless, of course, the driver has audio recording on as well).


2. If you plan on traveling as a group, ensure that everyone in the vehicle knows that the driver (or you) have audio recording turned on. The Privacy Fundamentalists in your midst will thank you for it!


3. If you accidentally delete the recording, “Uber has no way to recover it”.


While the added level of security enhances the user experience, audio recording is only one consideration when it comes to holistic protection planning. Other applications like Bond allow consumers to record audio, video, and even connect to a live agent in the event of an incident occurring in-the-moment. These programs are great for ridesharing, late nights at the office, and times of overall uncertainty. As always, we encourage protectors, parents, and privacy enthusiasts to consider multiple options during travel.


Mobile Microphone Settings


As always, we like to remind our clients of the safety measures they can take when reviewing and adjusting Safety & Privacy features on their mobile devices. For iPhone users, navigate to “Settings  Privacy & Security  Microphone” to review which mobile applications have (and truly need) access to your microphone.



Tom joined 360 Privacy in 2022 after having worked at Goldman Sachs as a private wealth advisor. He came to Goldman from the US Army, where he served as a Green Beret from 2010-2018 and functioned as both a communications and intelligence subject matter expert. He deployed overseas four times during his tenure with 3rd Special Forces Group, where he was responsible for tactical and strategic targeting and digital exploitation. Tom is a Certified Ethical Hacker and obtained his CIPP/US Certification from International Association of Privacy Professionals.


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