One of the most incredible things that the steady march of technology has brought with it over the last decade doesn’t just have to do with how it’s changed our lives on a daily basis. It’s changed entire industries, too. In 2007, a phone, a personal data assistant, a GPS and a digital camera were four separate devices. Now, they’re one — the smartphone — and that’s not something that is going to change any time soon.

This phenomenon has also been observed elsewhere, with the transportation industry one of the most prominent examples. If you were trying to catch a ride home from a bar or were navigating your way across a big city 10 years ago, you would call (or hail) a taxicab. Now, doing anything other than calling for an Uber or a Lyft is practically unthinkable.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful.

According to one recent story that ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, there is at least one driver working for both Uber and Lyft — that we are aware of — who has been live streaming passengers without their consent. There are likely many, many more. If you’re about to ride in an Uber or Lyft and want to make sure that your privacy is protected, here’s what you need to know about checking for hidden cameras.

 

Uber Hidden Camera

Checking for Spy Cameras:  Breaking Things Down

With regards to this particular modern-day issue, experts agree that simply being aware that you might be under the watchful eye of a hidden camera is an excellent start for protecting your privacy. You’re far more likely to spot a hidden camera or at least pick up on something that might be suspicious if you’re aware that it’s a possibility in the first place.

When you get into your next Uber or Lyft, specifically look for hidden cameras and make sure to ask questions about any stickers or other notifications that you see mentioning recording equipment. In the above situation from St. Louis, there was indeed a sticker on the back of the car saying “for security purposes, this vehicle is equipped with audio and video recording devices.” While the passengers who were affected say they didn’t notice, it’s still a good warning sign that something is up, and you should be aware so that you don’t make the same mistake.

Likewise, you would also want to rely on the tactics you would use to find a hidden camera in any other environment. Be aware of small objects where a camera could be concealed and think about where one would have to be placed in order to record you from where you’re sitting. Look for items that don’t belong in a car that a camera could be inside. You’ll never be able to find it if you’re not proactive about things.

But finally, understand that it is not the company policy of Uber or Lyft to film their customers, either with or without their concent. In the event that you find a camera, ask for it to be disabled. If the driver tells you that he or she is not going to do that, cancel the ride and call another car. You should also take steps to warn other people, too, such as calling the company to make a report. When you’re asked to rate the driver, make sure to mention the camera in your comment. At the very least, it may make them think twice about pulling the same thing on somebody else.

Even if they say that they’ve installed this equipment “for their own safety,” which was the excuse used by the driver in St. Louis, that doesn’t mean that they’re allowed to violate your own right to privacy. Yet that is exactly what they’re doing, which is why you want to be vigilant about your stance and don’t back down. Rest assured that other people are certainly going to thank you for it in the future.