Electric moped sharing company Whizascoot has announced it will start manually vetting its users after Lovin Malta revealed that its AI-powered identity verification system could be used to approve people without a valid driving license.
“Since Whizascoot takes driver and public safety very seriously, it is taking immediate steps to switch its automatic verification system to a manual one until further reassurances are obtained from its identity-management provider,” the company said in a statement.
Whizascoot played down concerns that its system was allowing people to upload other people’s licenses, arguing that the verification process requires there to be a match between the account details and the driving license details.
However, Lovin Malta indeed managed to get a person verified by sending in a photo of someone else’s license. In this case, Whizascoot automatically changed the user’s date of birth to the date of birth of the license holder. It has passed on these details to Whizascoot for investigation.
And what if there’s an accident?
While the risk of unlicensed drivers riding motorbikes poses immediate safety concerns, the situation is also problematic in terms of insurance that will be payable to people if their cars get damaged by an unlicensed Whizascoot rider.
Whizascoot’s mopeds are all insured with third party cover but the law excludes people who don’t hold a license from insurance cover. In the case of an accident, Whizascoot would likely blame the unlicensed rider, with its terms and conditions clearly stating that customers must be in possession of a valid moped driving license.
“Lovin Malta’s attention is being drawn to the fact that the law clearly states that the driver of a motor vehicle needs to be in possession of a valid driver’s licence and therefore, the holder of the driver’s licence uploaded and verified on the system is the only authorised driver of the vehicle,” Whizascoot said. “Anyone using a false identity is criminally liable at law as in any other instance of identity theft or misrepresentation.”
However, if a customer decides to challenge Whizascoot by arguing that it was responsible for accepting an unlicensed person as a customer in the first place, traffic accident victims could well end up in the middle of a legal wrangle between the insurance, the vehicle owner and the rider.
Malta Insurance Association President Adrian Galea confirmed with Lovin Malta that while innocent victims of traffic accidents are always protected by law, if there is no valid liability insurance, they will only be entitled to compensation once they obtain a favourable arbitration or court decision.
The compensation will then be paid by the insurer or by the Protection and Compensation Fund, depending on the circumstances of the case, with the party established as the legally responsible party (ie. either the owner or driver of the vehicle) obliged to refund the money.
If the driver is held responsible but cannot afford the bill, that will only lead legal problems .
As for the victim, s/he will remain in limbo, forced to either wait in limbo until the litigation is over or repair their car out of their own pocket, without even the comfort of a temporary car that insurers often grant victims.