Summary: An ex-Uber employee claims that customer privacy isn’t protected.
While Uber is a blessing during drunken holiday party season, the company has also gotten a bad rap for everything from drivers who allegedly stalk pretty passengers to classifying their workforce as independent contractors. Now a new lawsuit claims that Uber doesn’t protect its users’ privacy like it claims, and that employees go so far to take the data to stalk their ex-lovers and celebrities like Beyonce.
Last February, the ride-share company fired Ward Spangenberg, a forensic investigator, after 11 months of employment. In October, he sued for wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation, age discrimination, and defamation. In his court declaration, he said that Uber Employees accessed trip details about famous people and politicians, and even crazier, they tracked their ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends’ coming and goings. According to Reveal, Spangenberg said that Uber violated consumer privacy and data protection laws.
Spangenberg’s accusations were confirmed by five other former Uber employees who spoke to Reveal. They said that customers’ information was easily available to Uber’s thousands of employees, despite the fact that Uber had assured the public that there were policies in place to prevent the act.
Two years ago, the public found out that executives were using Uber’s “God View” function to monitor customers’ rides in real time. This tool gave them an aerial map of all cars on the road, including the data of the riders inside. The New York attorney general began investigating this tool, and Uber promised the “God’s View” function would be altered to protect customer privacy. Business Insider stated that as part of the settlement, Uber claimed they would remove all personally identifiable information about riders and active cars, would limit employee access to the tool, and conduct audits on employee access.
The employees who spoke to Reveal said that Uber’s promise was empty and that nothing had changed since the proclamation. Spangenberg said that the company was so obsessed with growth that security was “an afterthought.” He said that not only were customers’ information not protected, but driver details such as a social security number were also readily available to all employees.
“The only information, truthfully, that I ever felt was safe inside of Uber is your credit card information,” Spangenberg said. “Because it’s not stored by Uber.”
Uber denied Spangenberg’s claims, and it said that they had systems in place to protect its users. It also said that employees had limited access and that access was used for business purposes only such as investigating traffic accidents or addressing a customer complaint.
“We have hundreds of security and privacy experts working around the clock to protect our data,” Uber said in a statement. “This includes enforcing strict policies and technical controls to limit access to user data to authorized employees solely for purposes of their job responsibilities, and all potential violations are quickly and thoroughly investigated.”
Uber said that Spangenberg was not fired because he complained about their practices. Instead, he was fired because he reformatted his computer, which was against company code of conduct. Spangenberg said that he rebuilt his laptop because it had crashed, and this was standard practice.
- Uber’s $100M Settlement Rejected
- Uber Driver Charged for Shooting Rampage
- Why Is Uber Sued So Much?
- Uber Faces Sexual Assault Lawsuit in Texas
Do you trust Uber with your personal information? Let us know in the comments below.