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Why Uber drivers will not access rider’s phone number

By Fredrick Obura | Published Thu, July 12th 2018 at 14:32, Updated July 12th 2018 at 14:46 GMT +3

NAIROBI, KENYA: Uber has announced new privacy changes to its app in Nairobi that now anonymises phone numbers of driver-partners and riders. 

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As of 12 July 2018, drivers and riders will no longer have access to each other’s private phone numbers. “Phone anonymisation is a safety precaution, ensuring that the privacy of both driver-partners and riders is considered at all times,” says Loic Amado, General Manager for Uber in East Africa. 

Uber will now use software to connect calls between a driver and a rider that anonymises both cell phone numbers. Drivers will now see the same contact number for each rider that contacts them. Once a trip comes to an end, riders are encouraged to use Uber’s 24/7 in-app support should they need to reach a driver. 

“The benefit of using our in-app support is two-fold. Riders have access to 24/7 support in the event that they need assistance (no more calling a driver that cannot be reached due to the driver being on the road).

Secondly, this change has the added benefit of keeping a formal track record of communication. Uber will have a record of correspondence to assist with a request, for example, in the event of a rider having left an item in a vehicle,” says Amado. 

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The move however has not been welcomed by some drivers who feel it will create unnecessary bureaucracy in reaching out to riders.

“At times a driver would want to reach the rider first because they take time to call us,  it is now a challenge with the new development; we are likely to see more cancelations going forward,” said a driver.

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