On Tuesday, Uber announced new rules around its face mask policy, revealing that some riders may soon be required to provide "mask selfies" to ensure they are in compliance. The ride-share company is looking for ways to enforce the mask requirement among both drivers and riders. The company claims that most people have been following this rule and that the new requirements are only there to catch the stragglers.
"If we do have people who are still violating the policy, we want to be able to verify them with an extra step," Sachin Kansal, Uber's senior director of product management said in an interview on ABC News. "And if they're not wearing a mask, they will not be able to take a ride." With this requirement, customers would need to upload a selfie in which they are wearing a mask to the Uber app so that facial recognition technology could determine whether they are in compliance.
Uber made face masks a requirement for both riders and drivers back in May after the CDC had indicated that all Americans should wear them when out in public. It used this facial recognition technology on the drivers' side of the app from the beginning, but it would be new for customers. It will still not be applied to everyone — just to customers who have violated the mask rule before.
According to Uber, their facial recognition software is so complete that it will be able to tell whether a person's mask is pulled up over the bridge of their nose or not, and correct them. "We want to continue to educate the users who may not be aware of this policy," Kansal said. "They're just coming back, let's say, and using Uber after a long time."
Facial recognition software has caused concern about user privacy in the past, and Uber said that it is taking that into consideration as well. The company said the mask selfies will not be stored long-term. Kansal said: "In about four days we delete the picture. The reason why we keep it for four days is in case there is any issue, there is any complaint."
"If we find that riders or drivers have been in violation of the policy, we will first educate them," Kansal went on. "We will send them emails. We want to make sure that they actually understand what the policy is. But if we see repeat violation, then we can take further action, including taking them off the platform."