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Uber to test recording audio of trips in effort to improve security

Image: A smartphone showing the Uber app is display inside a car in Brazil
A smartphone showing the Uber app is displayed inside a car in Brazil on May 2, 2017, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Copyright Doug Patricio/Brazil Photo Press Getty Images file
Copyright Doug Patricio/Brazil Photo Press Getty Images file
By Kalhan Rosenblatt with NBC News Tech and Science News
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The feature was unveiled during an event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, earlier this month and may be rolled out in other regions down the road.

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Uber is testing out a new audio-recording feature in Mexico and Brazil as part of the ride-hailing app's efforts to improve safety.

The feature was first unveiled at an event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, earlier this month, and will allow drivers and riders to record audio of their trip "before or during the trip in some regions," according to an Uber blog post in Portuguese.

Uber confirmed to NBC News that it would be testing out the new safety feature in Latin America. The rollout will begin next month, according to The Washington Post.

It is unclear if and when the feature will make it to the United States.

The blog post stated that the audio is encrypted and stored on the user's phone, but adds that only Uber will have access to the recording. Users will not be able to play back their recording.

If a rider or a driver has a complaint about their ride, the audio will be forwarded to Uber and shared with the authorities, if necessary, according to the blog post.

Uber has acknowledged safety issues in major markets such as the U.S. and India, where the company has worked to improve safety features.

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Earlier this year, a South Carolina college student was killed after getting into a vehicle she mistook for her Uber ride. This prompted the company to push out an alert for riders to check the license plate, make and model of the vehicle — as well as the name and picture of the driver — to confirm it's the correct person picking them up.

But Latin America has its own safety concerns, according to Reuters.

The company told Reuters there are "numerous and increasing reports" of passengers or drivers in Latin America being "victimized by violent crime, such as armed robbery, violent assault and rape while taking or providing a trip on our platform."

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