Home News Analysis Could collaboration with NADRA make Uber/Careem more secure?

Could collaboration with NADRA make Uber/Careem more secure?

Could collaboration with NADRA make Uber/Careem more secure? : Driver and passenger verification is key.

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News Analysis |

Ride-sharing has become a basic necessity in expanding urban centers where smartphone owners may use apps like Uber and Careem to make cab bookings. However, there has always been speculation as to how secure this mode of transport really is.

These companies have SOP’s in place to keep divers in check, but lack any way of verifying their customers. So both the driver and the passenger are at risk. Criminal offenses related to these services have made headlines in the past.

In March 22-year-old Sajawal Ameer, who was a captain with ride-hailing service Careem, had been shot five times by gunmen as they tried to snatch his car in the Lakhu area within the remits of the Naseerabad police station.

In this scenario, if a rogue rider already has a badge and the phone number used for the ride is matched. In case of a positive match, Careem/Uber would be obliged to hand override details to concerned authorities.

In April 2018 a customer was robbed by an armed Uber driver in Lahore. He was after her mobile phone. In July 2017, a Careem driver was fired from his job, after a complaint of harassment was posted by a female customer on their Facebook page.

Social media has become the platform for harassment related complaints. Many complaints can be seen on Facebook evidenced with screenshots of longer than usual routes, excessive missed calls bordering harassment and even flirtatious messages from drivers to clients.

Read more: Are Uber and Careem empowering women in Pakistan?

Although both companies operating in Pakistan have endeavored to make their taxi-booking service authentic and safe, but unfortunate occurrences have continued. Consumers and commentators attribute most of these occurrences to the rivalry between Uber and Careem. To capitalize on competitors’ losses or gains is a job for corporations but as for citizens, there is an objective need to address these problems.

In our last article on the issue, focused on making Careem and Uber more accessible to women, providing them with unmatched convenience when it came to hailing cabs electronically from the comfort of their workplace or home, This article will focus more on improving the security side of the business for all customers.

In March 22-year-old Sajawal Ameer, who was a captain with ride-hailing service Careem, had been shot five times by gunmen as they tried to snatch his car in the Lakhu area within the remits of the Naseerabad police station.

As the main stakeholders in the car-hiring industry, Uber and Careem could really look to cement their approval ratings by collaborating with the government. The government has much to gain in terms of credibility when lobbying for improved urban security especially for the female workforce. Consequentially, the wider public would receive the message for greater female rights and other business would attempt to set up a similar model.

The win-win idea would require data sharing between the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and Uber/Careem. Nothing over the top (hint: NSA) or unsolicited, but the basic sharing of CNIC number to obtain verification of customers and drivers alike.

Read more: Provincial governments preventing Careem expansion

Under the corporate end, there is a responsibility to verify each driver who signs up through the biometric process. With NADRA already biometrically verifying all cell phone numbers, it would be easy to identify the driver’s CNIC and phone number as well as other personal details. Such details are already contained in NADRA database and can be digitally updated from the Uber/Careem database.

Additionally, verification on part of every app owner is also necessary. Users may be required to sign up by entering their CNIC number along with their phone number – previously only phone numbers were needed. The app will then proceed to verify this data with NADRA digitally and if both numbers match those in the NADRA database, the app owner would receive their initiation “badge”. In case the phone number does not match, the CNIC number alone would suffice.

NADRA will also communicate the gender of the app owner through CNIC verification upon downloading app. Once this has been verified, the app owner would receive their second “badge”, one which the previous article explains is necessary for target marketing and services pertaining to women empowerment.

Many complaints can be seen on Facebook evidenced with screenshots of longer than usual routes, excessive missed calls bordering harassment and even flirtatious messages from drivers to clients.

It is noteworthy to mention at this point that Uber’s rider/driver rating system is pretty good in determining the credibility of each. Those riders with all necessary badges receive better ratings and increase their chances of getting secure affordable rides. A driver is bound by his contract and the data provided willingly to abide by the rules which will include improper charging, sexual harassment and attempted kidnapping.

On the other hand in cases of customer misconduct, such as those recent incidents where Careem captains were murdered, the verification process will once again guarantee the security of drivers. Usually, the customer cannot be apprehended because only a phone number is necessary when securing a ride. Moreover, people can receive a ride booking from a “friend” who might be the verified app owner.

Read more: Moving in reverse: Careem launches bike service after Car and Aeroplane…

In this scenario, if a rogue rider already has a badge and the phone number used for the ride is matched. In case of a positive match, Careem/Uber would be obliged to hand override details to concerned authorities. If the match is negative, app owner can submit non-discriminatory report while the number used is would be forwarded to concerned law enforcement authorities.

It would also help if Careem/Uber included security disclaimers in their marketing campaigns, app store pages and upon signing up. Uber’s option where customers can book rides for a “friend” can also help in classifying data shared between the apps and authorities.

Customers would be apprehensive of any data breaches, as the one that Careem experienced in late 2017. But with the Badge system in place, no data is being stored by third-parties and any data breach will not be hurting government databases nor exposing any more sensitive information to hackers.


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