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China’s largest ride-hailing company is now recording in-car audio during passenger trips – Tech – Pulselive.co.ke

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  • Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, is now recording in-car audio during passenger trips in an effort it says will improve customer safety.
  • Users must agree to have their ride recorded for the duration of the trip, or else they cannot book.
  • Some users have expressed concern that the new safety measures are an invasion of privacy.
  • The recording policy also raises questions about widespread surveillance that takes place in China as part of its “social credit system.”

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, is now recording in-car audio during passenger trips in an effort that it says will improve customer safety.

The company, most recently valued at $50 billion, began trialing the new feature on one of its platforms, Didi Hitch, on Saturday, which asks users for a one-time authorization to create a voice recording for the duration of their rides before they’re able to book a car. If they decline, the booking cannot be completed.

A message on the app says recording is done on the driver’s phone, and recordings will be uploaded to the company’s servers as an encrypted file only accessible by Didi or law-enforcement. According to the message, the recording will be used as evidence in dealing with complaints or bad reviews, and will be automatically deleted within seven days if a complaint is not filed.

In July, the app tested out an optional video recording function in 20 cities, which asked users if they wanted to be recorded when they entered into a vehicle equipped with a camera.

The company has also rolled out driver facial recognition software before each trip, limited late-night rides to drivers and passengers of the same sex, and announced it would temporarily be suspending late night services on the app from September 8 while the company evaluates risks and continues to make improvements.

The increased safety measures follow two high-profile murders that happened during Didi rides in the last several months.

Last month, a 20-year-old woman was allegedly raped and murdered by a driver after using the service in the eastern province of Zhejiang, and in May, a 21-year-old flight attendant raped and murdered in Zhengzhou by an unregistered driver who allegedly hijacked his father’s account.

Public records seen by the South China Morning Post indicate that the service had at least a dozen instances of sexual assault convictions involving drivers and passengers.

Users are worried about being monitored


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(Wang He/Getty Images)

Some users have expressed concern that the new safety measures are an invasion of privacy.

“This is sacrificing privacy for safety,” one user wrote on popular microblogging platform Weibo, according to Sixth Tone. “Why can’t [Didi] let passengers make their own choice?”

“We can’t talk about work and life during a journey after this,” a Didi passenger told Global Times. “I feel that both the driver and passenger are being monitored.”

The new measures also raise wider concerns about surveillance of Chinese citizens as they go about their daily lives.

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China has already announced plans for a mandatory “social credit system” to be rolled out by 2020, which ranks citizens behavior and “trustworthiness” by monitoring most things about people — from their spending habits, to their internet use, to traffic violations.

Good social credit can lead to preferential treatment when renting apartments, staying in hotels, or getting a job promotion. But a poor score could result in travel bans, lower internet speeds, limited job prospects, or even public shaming.

The methodology of how China cultivates the score remains foggy, though the country could be using widespread facial recognition technology, monitoring online messages, forcing citizens to download government-linked monitoring apps, and tracking citizens’ social media posts.

The credit system has been rolled out in dozens of cities across the country, and citizens are already witnessing the effects of state monitored surveillance from suspended university enrollment, to banned travel access.

Several popular apps have been found to record sensitive user data stored in their mobile devices, which could be used to track and monitor Chinese citizens, according to Hong Kong Free Press. And Chinese authorities have acknowledged they have accessed deleted conversations from the popular messaging app WeChat.

Still, when it comes to ensuring safety, users in Chinese citizens are among the most willing to sacrifice privacy for safety and convenience, according to a report by market research firms Experian and International Data Corporation.



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Sentence Jane Muthoni to death, the State urges court in husband murder case

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Jane Muthoni hired men, including her co-accused, to kill her husband Solomon Mwangi in November 2016. [File, Standard]

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) wants Jane Muthoni, who was found guilty of her husband’s murder on April 22, sentenced to death.
Muthoni, alongside her co-accused Isaac Ng’ang’a, was declared guilty of Solomon Mwangi’s murder, which occurred in November 2016.
State Prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki told the Nakuru High Court on Tuesday, May 18 that the crime committed by the two; and the manner in which the murder was executed, “deserves a severe punishment such as death sentence”.
“This is a case that meets the threshold of a death penalty,” said Mwaniki.
“We are looking at the seriousness of the acts that led to Solomon Mwangi’s death. In our conclusion, we pray that this court finds that the element of the statutory premeditation was satisfied in this case,” she submitted.
According to the prosecutor, her team proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there was “substantial orchestration and planning” of Mwangi’s execution by Muthoni and Ng’ang’a.
“Mwangi’s death was not caused by a spontaneous act of violence, or an act of self-defense by the accused,” said Mwaniki, who proposed Muthoni and Ng’ang’a be sentenced to death.
Lawyer Wokabi Mathenge, who represented Solomon Mwangi’s family in the case, reiterated the Prosecution’s recommendation, terming Mwangi’s killing as “Murder Most Foul”.

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“He was defenseless while being killed,” said Mathenge.
The lawyer said Muthoni was yet to express any remorse to Mwangi’s family over his murder.
“The first accused (Muthoni), being a teacher, was expected to impart ethics to learners. In this case, she was the mastermind of her husband’s death. She, therefore, conducted herself in a manner not expected of a person of her stature,” said Mathenge.
According to the lawyer, Mwangi’s murder deprived his four children of fatherly love.
“We urge the court to find that a death sentence will suffice. Mwangi’s death was premeditated and well-planned,” he emphasised.
The accused’s lawyer, Francis Njanja, however defended Muthoni and Ng’ang’a against death sentence, stating the two have cooperated with the courts thus far.
Njanja maintained that even though the courts found the duo guilty of murder, they were “still innocent”.
Muthoni, who addressed the court via video conferencing, pleaded her innocence, saying her family had suffered throughout the period she’s been in custody.
“I’m the only hope and surviving breadwinner in my family. My children are suffering, yet those who killed my husband are out there walking freely,” she said.
Ng’ang’a, on his part, pleaded with the court to consider a lenient sentence on him.
Justice Joel Ngugi said the two persons will be sentenced on June 3, 2021.
How Mwangi’s murder was planned
During the trial, the court heard that in early November 2016, Muthoni hired two men to kill her spouse, the principal of Kiru Boys’ High School in Mathioya, Murang’a County. One of the hired killers was Muthoni’s co-accused, Isaac Ng’ang’a. The other, Nelson Njiru, disappeared shortly after learning that Muthoni and Ng’ang’a were being hunted.
Muthoni had been directed to Ng’ang’a and Njiru by Joseph Kariuki, who turned into a Prosecution witness following a plea negotiation. Kariuki was, however, sentenced to seven years in jail for manslaughter.
Upon arrest in mid-November 2016, Muthoni and Ng’ang’a, alias Gikuyu, were charged with Solomon Mwangi’s murder.
The court, through Kariuki, heard that Muthoni engineered her husband’s killing after he allegedly kick-started a relationship with another woman, identified in court as MWK or M-Pesa Lady. The plan was to eliminate Mwangi’s lover and then kill him, the court was told.
After four years in court, the case came to a close on Thursday, April 22, 2021, when Muthoni and Ng’ang’a were declared guilty of Mwangi’s murder.
“The offence of murder is established against both the first and second accused persons (Muthoni and Ng’ang’a respectively). Consequently, I find and hold that both accused persons are guilty of the murder of the deceased. I hereby convict both of them accordingly,” Justice Ngugi pronounced himself on the case.
In the ruling, the judge observed that Muthoni did not physically kill Mwangi, but “evidence demonstrated that she was the author of the plot”.
Muthoni reportedly parted with Sh50,000 for Mwangi’s killing, which was conducted by Ng’ang’a and another person not before the court Nelson Njiru. The hired killers strangled Mwangi to death on November 6, 2016, and dumped his body in Karakuta Coffee Estate in Juja, Kiambu County.
The court relied on 18 SMSs between Muthoni and Njiru, and 21 Prosecution witnesses to conclude that Muthoni had masterminded her husband’s murder.

Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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You should be humble, Tuju tells judges after BBI ruling

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Judges should be humble and realise that they depend on other arms of government like the police, even as they exercise their authority in court, Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju has said.

Respect President

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Court Postpones Sentencing of Ex-School Head Convicted of Husband’s Murder –

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A Nakuru Court on Tuesday postponed the sentencing of Jane Muthoni, the former principal of Icaciri Secondary School in Kiambu.

Muthoni was last month found guilty of killing her husband, Solomon Mwangi, who then was the principal of Kiru Boys Secondary, Murang’a County.

The former school head will be sentenced on June 3.

The prosecution asked for the death sentence.

She and her co-accused Isaac Ng’ang’a alias Gikuyu were alleged to have committed the offence on diverse dates between November 6 and November 11, 2016, at Karakuta Coffee Estate in Juja sub-county, Kiambu County.

She claimed it was her husband’s colleagues who orchestrated the murder after he refused to play into their game over transfers.

Muthoni told the court that the principals, who influenced transfers and promotions of teachers in the region, were aggrieved after Mbuthi was posted to the school while she was promoted to head Icaciri Secondary School without going through them.

Muthoni alleged that the cartel had demanded Sh1 million from them to facilitate their transfer to schools of their choice.

Read: Widow of Slain Kiiru Boys Principal Convicted of Murder

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The court heard that the cartel framed Muthoni after killing her husband.

She was accused of having hired four people to kill her husband after suspecting him of having extramarital affairs.

One of the suspects identified as Joseph Kariuki Njuguna alias Karis confessed to being part of a gang hired by the slain principal’s wife to commit the crime.

In a 10-page confession that placed Muthoni at the murder scene, Njuguna pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in a plea bargain arrangement that saw him agree to be a prosecution witness.

He was sentenced to seven years in jail by Kiambu High Court judge Joel Ngugi in March 2017.

In his ruling, the judge stated that it was evident the accused was not directly involved in the planning and execution of the murder, terming him a reluctant participant who did it for money.

He, however, faulted him for doing nothing to prevent the murder.

The fourth suspect, Nelson Njiru, is still at large.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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