Be careful what you say in an Uber

Dance instructor and mother of two Angela Hill drives for Uber in her spare time.

WATCH what you do or say the next time you jump into an Uber: Your back seat phone calls, make-out sessions or drunken arguments could be recorded.

That became very clear this week, when Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to apologise after video of him arguing with one of the ride-hailing company’s drivers was made public. Drivers use dashboard cameras, which typically record inside and outside the vehicle, as a way to defend themselves against false claims from passengers or to provide video to an insurance company after an accident.

It is unclear how many ride-hailing app drivers have cameras, but some who follow the industry have seen interest from drivers increase after high-profile incidents like Kalanick’s.

“They’re not super prevalent,” says Harry Campbell, who runs ride-hailing blog TheRideshareGuy.com, “but the trend is that more and more drivers are installing them.”

WHY THERE’S A CAMERA

Campbell, who lives in Los Angeles and drives for Uber and Lyft, says drivers can use video recordings if a passenger gets violent or makes false complaints to the ride-hailing company they work with.

Many passengers use ride-hailing apps after a night of drinking, Campbell says, and can get rowdy. Once, a passenger started throwing stuff out his vehicle’s window, he says. However, since he bought a $US150 dual camera more than a year ago, he hasn’t had any need for the recordings.

THE RULES

Uber says on its website that drivers are allowed to install cameras for safety reasons, but asks them to check with local laws since they may have to “obtain consent” to record them. (Uber and its rival Lyft did not respond to requests for comment.)

However, ride-hailing app drivers may not be aware of the laws since they work independently or do it part time, says Chris Harvey, an lawyer at Harvey Esquire in Los Angeles. “It’s up to them to find out what the law is,” Harvey says.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

If you want to know if you’re being recorded, look ahead. Cameras are typically found attached to the vehicle’s rearview mirror or dashboard. Or, you can just ask the driver.

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