IBIA Urges Uber and Lyft to Accept Biometric Background Checks for Drivers

The International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) is urging unregulated taxi services Uber and Lyft to accept fingerprint-based background checks for their drivers. In a new white paper, the organization argues that the companies’ reliance on biographic background checks and their refusal to make use of the criminal databases associated with program’s like the FBI’s Rap Back fingerprint matching service are essentially failing to fully ensure the safety of their passengers.

IBIA Urges Uber and Lyft to Accept Biometric Background Checks for DriversIt’s an increasingly contentious issue as some cities seek to implement regulations compelling the services to adhere to FBI fingerprint background checks, and Uber and Lyft respond by threatening to halt their services. The companies recently spent millions of dollars fighting such legislation in Austin, Texas, with the regulations ultimately being adopted as a result of a municipal referendum forced by the companies. Uber and Lyft then withdrew their services from the city.

In a statement, IBIA Managing Director Tovah LaDier pointed out the risks of biographic background checks, which “are vulnerable to data entry errors and attempts to use false or misleading biographic information to thwart detection.” She also pointed to a striking irony, asserting that while “Uber has created a business revolution based upon the use of technology,” the company “would prefer an antiquated and vulnerable process by relying solely on name-based background checks of its applicants.”

Given that Uber is embracing biometric identification technology as a strategic business strategy elsewhere—the company aims to use facial recognition in China ensure drivers aren’t sharing accounts or using fake ones—it certainly seems within the realm of possibility that Uber could concede to another form of biometric authentication for customers in its home country.

June 14, 2016 – by Alex Perala