Terror Suspect’s Work For Uber Raises Concerns About Background Checks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Investigators tracing the steps of the New York terror suspect say he worked as an Uber driver for the past six months.

Police say Sayfullo Saipov gave more than 1,400 rides, and for some it’s raised concerns about background checks for car services.

When you open the door to a cab, an Uber, or Lyft, how do you know the driver is someone you can trust?

That question is on the minds of many New Yorkers after terror Saipov — an Uber driver for six months in Paterson — allegedly drove down a West Side bike path killing eight people on Halloween.

So do passengers wonder if their Uber driver could be dangerous?

“I do but I also do the same with a cab,” Blair Walsh told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare.

Taxi and Limousine Commission, Deputy Commissioner Allan Fromberg said New York City has the strictest driver security vetting in the nation.

It includes, criminal background checks with fingerprinting, drug testing, and constant arrest updates.

“Whether you are an Uber driver, Lyft or yellow taxi driver for the local car service you go through the same background checks, the same drug test,” Fromberg said.

Saipov is from New Jersey, and outside the five boroughs Uber drivers are not fingerprinted.

“That was the biggest concern that we have here,” Westchester County Executive, Rob Astorino said.

Westchester County instituted a voluntary fingerprinting program fro ride hailing app drivers this summer because state regulations do not require it.

“The state law has a huge gap, I mean putting DMV in charge of security for Uber and Lyft is not my idea of safety,” Astorino said

Less than a dozen drivers have paid the $90 fingerprinting fee to get Westchester’s thumbs up, since last July.

For its part, Uber said it is ‘horrified’ by the attack and that safety remains a worry for passengers like Blair Walsh.

“I don’t really think about someone being a terrorist. I think more about someone harming me,” Walsh said.

Even the TLC admits, it’s impossible to really know what’s going on inside of a driver’s heart and mind whether they work in a yellow cab or for a ride hailing app.

Outside of New York City, names and social security numbers are used to do background checks, not fingerprinting.

 

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