It’s 2017, and we’re living in a world of information overload.
Recently, there have been some issues surrounding Uber in relation to consumer privacy. So, it’s probably as good a time as any to ask: how much do you know about the way Uber collects and shares information?
Nearing the end of 2016, reports surfaced regarding Uber’s new permissions policy . Basically, customers found out that the Uber App had a very advanced, in-built tracking functionality feature – in other words, the app was able to easily track passengers…even when they weren’t actively using the Uber app.
To a lot of people (and, to many privacy and data security advocates), this sounded a little suspicious – and unnecessary.
Reports of Privacy Violations
In reality, this isn’t the first time that Uber has waded into controversy in relation to ‘camoflaged’ elements built within its passenger app. It was recently discovered, for instance, that Uber has been using a fake app in order to fend off government officials. In regards to sensitive information, there have been reports that Uber employees overstepped legal boundaries via the use of the app’s advanced monitoring ability – in fact, it was ultimately revealed, Uber employees could easily access customer data, based on a tool called God View – which effectively allowed them to monitor customer activity at will (this eventually led to an insignificant lawsuit, and a fine of $20,000).
These allegations date back to 2014, when ten Uber drivers reportedly were terminated from the platform for accessing trip data of celebrities.
Consenting to Uber’s Terms of Service
As stated in the policy, a major disclaimer reads: “Allow Uber to access your location even when you’re not using the app. Uber collects your location data from the time of trip request through five minutes after the trip ends, including when the app is in the background. We do this to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety.”
Should Uber users be concerned?
As stated by Uber, not all employees have access to a user’s sensitive information (and those who do, have likely had to pass multiple steps of approval in order to gain access to company data).
Regardless of what app you use, you should always be familiar with their legal and privacy policies. When you give out your personal information, know how it’s being used so that you can take the right step in protecting that data.
- To read Uber’s full Privacy Statement for drivers, access it here.
- To read Uber’s Privacy Statement for Users outside of the United States (i.e., Non-US users), access it here.
What to do if you have concerns
If you’re a regular Uber user, there isn’t that much you can do to protect all of your data. Even though credit card information is not stored by Uber, it has been reported that Social Security data is recorded by Uber, and there are some concerns about its safety in relation to the company’s drivers (currently, however, there are no ongoing concerns about SSN data being compromised in relation to Uber riders).
Nonetheless – if you’re still concerned about Uber’s practices (or, more generally, about internet and consumer privacy), it is possible to take extra precautions in order to protect yourself.
For instance – you can easily mitigate the Uber app’s ability to actively monitor your location (or track your movements) by disallowing the app’s ability to access your location — when you need a lift, manually input your location (as opposed to having the system automatically input it, via auto-tracking).
You can turn off Uber’s ability to track your location after a trip via the following steps:
Disallowing Location Data Sharing on the Uber App
On Android devices:
- Open the Uber App:
- Access Permissions
- Choose Location
- ‘Disable’ Location
On iPhones (or Apple devices):
- Open Settings
- Select Privacy
- Select Location Services
- Select Uber
- Select Never
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