This Change.org petition response shows how much Uber has changed

Uber has just responded to a group of Change.org petitioners protesting Uber’s background check policies in India, following the alleged rape of a passenger by a driver with an assault record. After the petition reached more than 63,000 signatures, Uber India safety lead Deval Delivala wrote a 600-word apology, explaining the steps the company is taking to improve its driver vetting process in the country.

Thursday night, the company said it will start doing its own background checks on drivers, instead of relying on government certification programs to vet the drivers adequately.

600 words might not seem too long to the average person, but by Uber’s standards this is a humble pie manifesto. It far exceeds the length of apologies or safety explanations Uber has sent to media in the past. I realized when rereading my old stories on Uber that it’s a complete 180 from the company’s response to assault incidents in 2013.

In the Change.org apology, Delivala covered everything from Uber’s reaction to the alleged rape (it was a “deeply sobering reminder that we must always be vigilant”) to what it taught Uber about background checks in India. She explained how the company is trying to strengthen its system, through things like a document verification system and an incident response team. She finished up with a bold promise: “We will repay [your] support with action and live up to the trust that you have placed in us.”

It may just be lip service, but it’s a new, refreshing kind of lip service. As recently as September, Buzzfeed found that Uber sent media the same two sentence response to any situation involving passenger safety, whether a rape, assault, or pedestrian injury. During one of Uber’s biggest scandals when an executive threatened to dig up dirt on journalists, CEO Travis Kalanick famously issued a 13 part tweet apology with very little apology actually included. After the rape of an Indian passenger in December, he published a blog post that was only 100 words.

These may be inadequate responses to terrible incidents, but they’re still far better than Uber’s old way of dealing with safety issues. In 2013, Uber used to claim it wasn’t responsible for its passengers’ safety. It didn’t think it was culpable for the actions of drivers or passengers on its platform (much like Facebook wouldn’t be responsible if one user threatened another on the site). Uber’s then-spokesperson told me that point blank after an SF driver hit a passenger. He said, “We’re not law enforcement…If law enforcement pursues this, we would cooperate. But we’re a technology platform that connects riders and providers, so it’s not our job to investigate.”

The Change.org apology shows how far the company has come. It still has major ethical issues and PR tactics to iron out, but at least it has started accepting responsibility for the incidents that occur through its service.

SilkRoad 2.0 has emerged with a new Dread Pirate Roberts

Just a month after the original SilkRoad shut down, SilkRoad 2.0 has emerged in its place, according to VentureBeat. The new SilkRoad is helmed by a new Dread Pirate Roberts, and offers the same underground black market experience with added security to boot. Meanwhile, the old Dread Pirate Roberts, Ross Ulbricht, is in the middle of answering charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and hacking. But it shows that when it comes to Tor, one Dark Web resource will always rise in the shadow of an old one.

ExtraTorrent Threatens Legal Action Over Police-Ordered Domain Seizure

http://torrentfreak.com/extratorrent-threatens-legal-action-over-police-ordered-domain-seizure-131010/

There’s a battle going on in the UK, as the City of London’s newly formed Intellectual Property Crime Unit has begun to target some of the largest torrenting sites in the world. The group has already seized the domain names of ExtraTorrent, SumoTorrent, MisterTorrent and MP3 sites emp3world.com, full-albums.net and maxalbums.com in order to shut down their operations, but the websites are not going quietly. TorrentFreak spoke with ExtraTorrent, the fifth-largest torrenting site in the world, about the fight it plans to wage with the City of London to resist the takeover. This one will be a bumpy ride.

Catching pedophiles with text mining and game theory

A group of Spanish researchers have developed a chatbot that poses as a teenager in order to catch pedophiles online. It’s an interesting idea and mix of technologies, even if it’s not fully baked.