Private cab service Uber has been facing some legal hurdles in the form of biometric background checks in at least two Texas cities recently.
The service was recently reinstated in San Antonio, where it had ceased operations after the introduction of regulations mandating, among other things, fingerprint-based background checks for drivers. A deal has now been reached that relaxes those regulations, and makes the fingerprint background check optional for drivers while requiring the company to inform passengers of whether individual drivers have undergone such a check.
Meanwhile, Austin City Councillors have moved to require Uber and its similar competitors to agree to fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, citing safety concerns in the wake of recent sexual assaults in the city involving transportation network company (TNC) drivers.
This has been a longstanding and widespread concern about Uber, and the tech-forward company itself has suggested it will develop biometric checks for drivers as a means of screening for security purposes. Now, in San Antonio at least, that is out of Uber’s hands; the City Council’s new measures give the city’s Transportation Department the authority to contract a third party to oversee the background check process. As the Austin Monitor points out, Council urges the department to contract a company that will be able to ensure the background check process is “completed quickly and does not create barriers for onboarding drivers”. While that could be seen as bad news for Uber, it could be good news for any biometrics companies promoting digital fingerprint scanning solutions.
October 16, 2015 – by Alex Perala