Amid growing concern over ride-share safety, Lyft announces new security features

New features are continuous criminal background checks, enhanced ID verification

ByJames Levinson
April 15, 2019, 5:52 PM

Just weeks after the death of a University of South Carolina student who was killed after getting into a car that she believed was her Uber, other ride-share companies are increasing their security features.

On Monday, Lyft announced that they were including two new safety features, in addition to the background checks that are already well established on the company platform. One new feature is "continuous criminal background checks," which will include daily monitoring of its active drivers and provide immediate notification of any disqualifying criminal convictions.

"Any driver who does not pass both the annual and continuous screenings will be barred from our platform," according to the company's blog.

The company also announced "enhanced identity verification," which will combine driver license verification and photography verification to prevent identity fraud.

PHOTO: A Lyft driver, Jan. 31, 2017, in San Francisco.
A Lyft driver, Jan. 31, 2017, in San Francisco.
Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images, FILE

The changes come just weeks after 20-year-old Samantha Josephson was killed. She was found dead in a wooded area after a night out with friends in Columbia, South Carolina. She had ordered an Uber to take her home in the early hours of March 29. Security video showed her getting into a car around 2 a.m., which police believe she thought was the Uber she'd requested.

Police said that after Josephson got into the car, her suspected killer activated the child safety door locks, preventing her from escaping.

Her parents Marci and Seymour Josephson spoke to George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America on Monday and urged for updated safety measures and changes to the laws to prevent future incidents.

"I think it's just become such a natural or new phenomenon using Uber. We trust people and you can't. You have to change the way that the laws are to make it safer because that's our nature. We automatically assume that we're safe," Marci Josephson said.

Uber has so far not announced any changes to its security platform since the incident. But the company has been using continuous criminal background checks since last year, and has its own real-time identification verification that has been in use for the last two years, according to a spokeswoman from Uber.

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