An Uber security feature is temporarily blocking drivers who look significantly different than they do on their driver’s licenses, turning what is meant to be a security red flag into a barrier for transgender drivers.
“I was all ready to [drive for] Uber. I drove downtown, and the only reason I knew I was deactivated was because I couldn’t get back online,” said transgender Uber drive Janey Webb, CNBC reported Wednesday.
Uber launched Real-Time ID Check in September 2016 in an effort to protect both riders and drivers by verifying that the driver is who he or she claims to be. The security feature randomly directs Uber drivers to pull over and take a photo of themselves that the security system then compares to their driver’s license photo. When the photos don’t match, Uber temporarily suspends the driver’s account until it can verify that the driver matches the identity of the photo ID.
“A transperson can’t be expected to update their license every three months or so just to avoid being deactivated,” Webb said. He began transitioning from male to female in October 2017 and looks significantly different than he did at the beginning of his transition.
After his account was deactivated, Webb called Uber support and drove to an in-person support center. Uber reactivated his app after he explained why his current photo didn’t match that on his driver’s license, but Uber could not guarantee that the same thing would not happen again, CNBC reported. (RELATED: Exclusive: Young Republicans Dumped At A ‘Random’ Gas Station By Anti-Trump Uber Driver Speak Out)
“We want Uber to be a welcoming, safe and respectful experience for all who use the app,” an Uber spokesperson told CNBC. “That’s why we maintain clear community guidelines and a nondiscrimination policy for riders and drivers, in addition to many safety features. We continue to focus on ways to advance our tech and constantly improve our app experience.”
Uber also introduced a feature in April allowing its employees to identify which pronouns they prefer, but the feature hasn’t been made available to drivers and riders yet.
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