Does the Uber Military Program Create a Security Risk?

Does uber military program create a security risk? http://wp.me/p1d7d0-9S6Stock photo

If you’re one of the 70,000 military spouses, veterans or service members who drives for Uber, you may have heard that they recently rolled out a feature for their Uber military program that lets riders know if you are part of the military community.

The announcement that a driver is a veteran or a military spouse appears for riders in the Uber app after they’ve accepted a ride with one. Uber officials designed the notification to help riders say “thank you” to those who have served or who are part of a military family.

But could labeling drivers by their affiliation cause a military security concern? We know that military families have been warned in the past about threats from terrorists who may be targeting military families both in person and online. Does allowing Uber to let a rider know that much about you cause a problem?

Uber officials said they don’t think so.  

“We want to help honor and recognize those who have served in a way that’s flexible and doesn’t put anyone at undo safety risk,” said Keith  Keith Hensley, who manages Uber’s special products team, including its military program. 

That’s why Uber officials decided to make the app feature entirely opt-in for the drivers– and easy to opt-out of if they change their minds later. When a military-affiliated driver becomes verified, he or she can turn the notification on. If for some reason they want to turn it off later, that’s simple to do, too.

“If you say ‘yes’ it will start populating, and if you say ‘no,’ you’ll continue to get the other perks” that Uber offers its drivers, Hensley said.

There’s also no way for a rider to specifically request a military-affiliated driver, he said.

“It’s completely at random. There’s no way that you can say ‘I want a member of the UberMILITARY community to be my driver,” he said.

Uber has partnered with the U.S. Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes to reach out to transitioning troops and military spouses. And while for many driving for the Uber military program may not be a long term employment strategy, it can help bring in some extra income as you look for other work.

 

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.