Recently, the on-demand economy has made the news for the best
reason possible: saving victims of human trafficking.
In December 2016, an Uber driver in California alerted police
after becoming concerned that his recent passenger may be in
danger. The Uber driver heard suspicious comments from two of his
passengers about a third passenger – an underage girl –
being delivered to a hotel for money. Thanks to a prompt call to
the authorities, the police arrived and arrested several people in
connection with "pimping and pandering." The underage
girl was rescued from the situation.
Uber issued a statement after this incident
was reported, saying: "Maintaining the platform as a safe and
comfortable place for both riders and driver partners is very
important to us, and any incident that disrupts that experience for
either party is one we take very seriously." Indeed, in April
2016, Uber became the first company in the ride sharing
economy to officially take the End Child Prostitution, Child
Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes
"ECPAT-USA" pledge against trafficking. As a part of this
pledge, Uber educates drivers about the physical and behavioral
indicators of a commercially exploited and trafficked child,
provides them with the tip lines for the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children and National Human Trafficking
Resource, and instructs them to call 911 if they believe a child is
in imminent danger.
Just last month, the Florida Attorney General's Office issued a resolution recognizing Uber for its
efforts to spot and fight human trafficking. In a statement,
Attorney General Pam Bondi stated: "Governor Scott and the
Florida Cabinet joined me today in recognizing Uber's proactive
efforts to fight human trafficking. The company and its drivers,
operating in more than 70 countries, are uniquely positioned to
help identify and ultimately prevent human trafficking and can play
a key role in the fight to stop traffickers across the globe.
Today's resolution commends Uber for their commitment to safety
in the communities drivers serve and in doing their part to put an
end to this horrific crime."
Many on-demand economy participants, such as Uber, are in a
unique position to witness signs of human trafficking occurring in
their own back seats. Indeed, the very nature of human trafficking
involves moving individuals to homes, hotel rooms, or other
locations where an Uber or Lyft ride may be the preferred method
for a quick transport. By being vigilant and watching for
suspicious statements or situations (such as a young girl in
provocative clothing riding with people she does not appear to know
well), more on-demand drivers can identify possible trafficking in
process. Likewise, by trusting their instincts and reporting their
suspicions to the police, drivers can help rescue victims from
dangerous situations and put traffickers behind
You may want to consider whether your business can take steps to
educate platform users about the dangers of human trafficking and
implement safety measures to help eradicate the problem.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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