Now, Uber is working to fight human trafficking by releasing advice for drivers, delivery couriers, and riders to identify signs and report human trafficking.
With guidance from End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA) and Polaris, Uber is sending the steps to all Uber drivers and delivery workers in the form of a podcast across the United States and Canada.
Head of Women’s Policy at Uber Brittany Anthony says with an increase in human trafficking hotline reports, it is more important than ever to raise awareness around this issue and help those who are most vulnerable.
“It’s estimated that nearly 25 million people around the world are trapped in some form of human trafficking,” Anthony said. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the resulting economic instability and social disruption have caused many individuals to be more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and human trafficking.”
According to a leading anti-trafficking organization, Polaris, when most communities were sheltering-in-place in April, the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline saw a 40 percent increase in crisis trafficking situations reported.
Matt Olsen, Uber’s Chief Trust, and Security Officer said, “Drivers and delivery people are in a unique position because they have the proximity and context to interact with at-risk individuals through the Uber platform. By providing them resources and education with the help of Polaris and ECPAT-USA, we want to encourage them to be vigilant while on the road.”
Anthony says drivers are in a unique position to spot trafficking if they are aware of some of the telltale signs.
“They have that proximity to dozens, maybe hundreds of people a day,” she said. “And they can observe things that might seem off. If their passenger is traveling with very little luggage and they’re going to a travel hub or an airport but they don’t have suitcases with them.”
Anthony says some of the signs include suspicious drop-off locations for young passengers, an older passenger coaching a younger passenger on how to speak or behave or they seem controlled or frightened, or if they are unaware of their surroundings or location.
She also says not to intervene if you suspect a passenger is being trafficked. She says to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline as soon as possible so the passenger can get the help they need.
If you believe you’ve witnessed something that might be human trafficking, or if you or someone you know might need help for an at-risk situation, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “Help” to 233733.