Roads Closed: Rideshare Drivers’ Privacy Interests Create a Roadblock to Addressing Increasing Public Safety Concerns Associated with Ridesharing

Apr 5, 2020

Hayley Hofmann

This Article hypothesizes that the privacy implications in imposing such surveillance upon rideshare drivers keep rideshare providers like Uber and Lyft from implementing the proposed safety measures despite growing safety concerns and external pressure to do so. The proposed video surveillance would affect control over rideshare drivers in a way that raises privacy concerns, presenting a new pothole in navigating the already complicated terrain as to whether rideshare drivers are appropriately classified as employees or independent contractors. Indeed, in understanding the privacy implications of the use of video surveillance measures within the independent contractor versus employee context, there are two significant roadblocks to imposing the proposed safety measures. First, inasmuch as rideshare drivers remain classified as independent contractors, the use of such video surveillance may violate their reasonable expectation of privacy. Second, notwithstanding whether the proposed safety measures would violate drivers’ privacy, rideshare providers are significantly deterred from using video surveillance because doing so affects control over drivers in such a way that could result in their reclassification as employees, which companies like Uber and Lyft have been careful to avoid.