Following the death of a passenger last week, Didi Chuxing is overhauling its carpooling feature, called “Hitch,” to increase safety measures for drivers and passengers.
In a blog post, Didi officials said there will now be mandatory facial-recognition scanning for all drivers before they pick up any fares. This is to help ensure only the registered Didi driver is accessing the app.
Last week, a man in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou took his father’s phone, logged into the Didi app, and picked up a 21-year-old flight attendant from the airport who had booked a ride on the Hitch platform. The man then allegedly raped and stabbed the woman to death.
His body was later found in a nearby river.
According to the South China Morning Post, the man was able to log into his father’s account because the facial recognition feature failed.
Didi suspended Hitch in the region following the murder. When the service returns, it will not be offered between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The Beijing-based technology group is also removing all personalized tags and profile features to help ensure passenger privacy.
"We plead for our valued drivers, car-owners and passengers to join us in helping make the services safer for all," Didi's post said.
All new safety protocols will be in place by the end of the month.
In the long term, Didi has expressed interested in introducing a recording feature, which would give users the option to active an in-app recording device to “obtain evidence in case of disputes." The group is also poised to update its app to include a “panic button,” which would enable real-time monitoring of in-car conversations with Didi’s customer service staff and automatically share trip information with a user’s emergency contacts.