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Republican and Democrat Senators Press Uber and Lyft to Strengthen Protections Against Transporting Human Trafficking Victims


A bipartisan group of United States senators urged chief executives from prominent ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to strengthen protections to help combat human trafficking in a set of letters Monday.

In separate letters to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft CEO David Risher, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) stated that both companies have already taken steps to curb incidents of trafficking but cited reports indicating that ride-sharing apps are still heavily being used for human trafficking.

In the letter to the Uber CEO, the senators stated that the new teen option, which allows 13 to 17 year-olds to ride alone for the first time, as well as use the food-delivery service Uber Eats, contained "benefits, in that it provides parents and guardians with additional reliable transportation options for their children that they can monitor and track."

However, the senators added, "given the reported prevalence of ride-hailing apps in sex trafficking, however, we are extremely concerned about the impact this change could have on the trafficking of minors."

In the letter to the Lyft CEO, the senators praised the training programs to help drivers recognize signs of trafficking but were concerned that the recent news of Lyft "downsizing and engaging in cost-cutting measures" are "insufficient to address trafficking on the company's ride-hailing service."

The bipartisan group of senators asked the ride-sharing chief executives to answer questions to combat trafficking, report protocol for incidents of suspected human trafficking, records of incidents, and tools for riders.

The senators also asked for the number of people employed to combat this issue.

The latest push from the Senate came after Uber launched the new teen feature. In the past, Uber prevented children under 18 from riding alone and encouraged drivers to report any suspected underage riders, yet many found different ways to circumvent the restrictions.

The newest teen option from Uber seeks to arm parents with tools and resources for supervision, prompting the end of long-held restrictions on rides for minors.

Related Story: Human Smugglers Requested Uber to Transport Migrants, Driver Caught

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