Caitlin Fairchild | Nextgov | June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

This Encrypted Ride-Sharing App Could Be the Future of Transportation

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For many people, the convenience of a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft outweighs the collection and use of their personal data, including location data.

But for those who find the treasure trove of data collected by companies like Uber extremely troubling, there is a ride-sharing option currently in development.

According to Wired, cryptography researchers from the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute in Lausanne have developed the beginnings of a software system called ORide. The O stands for oblivious and the aim of the software is to minimize the amount of location data collected, as only the rider and the driver will know the pickup location, the destination and the route taken.

The software begins by encrypting both the locations of drivers and riders on their phones. Those encrypted coordinates are matched by the service. If the rider chooses to "hail" a ride, the software starts up an end-to-end encrypted conversation so driver and rider can find each other, and a Bluetooth connection between their phones can verify each other. From there, the driver and rider can decide which route to take, and the ORide service will never see it in real time.

Just like with Uber and Lyft, there will be a rating score for all participants. So drivers and passengers will rate and be rated and that score will be tied to their accounts. But that account and its rating won't be tied to location data.

Don't expect ORide to be up and running anytime soon. Instead, look for the concept to be presented at the Usenix Security conference in August.

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