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Uber Faces Another Privacy Complaint - Tracking Users After Leaving Car?

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Photo: Reuters

By Amanda Warren

Uber is the nation’s largest ride-sharing company. You can get a ride in over 60 cities and become a taxi driver too. Because the model circumvents typical government and business obstacles and allows individuals the ability to draw extra income, it’s been a boon to free market and entrepreneur admirers.

Unfortunately, the admiration bumps up against hesitation with fears of surveillance and tracking via its state-of-the-art software. That technology may have led to a $200+ million investment by Google last year. It was rumored that the investment would go towards expansion into person-to-person delivery service, but so far those dreams are unrealized.

Last Monday, after catching wind of an anticipated privacy policy change, a privacy-rights organization is joining up with the Federal Trade Commission to contest Uber’s alleged desire to track and collect user data.

Newsfactor has just reported:

In a 23-page complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, the Electronic Privacy Information Center called for the agency to investigate Uber and halt possible privacy invasions ahead of a revised policy set to take effect July 15. 

“Uber’s revised privacy policy creates several risks for American consumers,” said EPIC in its complaint.

Uber adamantly denies the charge and says that the complaint has “no basis” and “that users would ‘be in control’ of how they release personal information.”

The company promised that the privacy statement would be simpler, easier to read and clearly state the users’ privacy boundaries as far as data collection goes.

But if there is a basis to EPIC’s complaint, than it is a big one. Newsfactor continues:

The biggest concern for EPIC, a Washington D.C.-based research center, is that Uber will collect location data from passengers even after they arrive at their destinations, as the Uber app can track GPS data if left running in the background of an iPhone, or other iOS device. Even users who turn off their GPS location finder could still be found through their phone IP address, which the privacy policy says offers a “unique identifier” for each user.

EPIC also claims that Uber will be able to access passenger’s contact lists, which it could use to send out promotional ads.

Such practices would not comprise new parts of the privacy policy. Rather, they are existing data collection possibilities that have come under scrutiny after Uber revised its policy May 28, with the intent, it said, to be jargon-free and clear to readers.


…According to EPIC, Uber tracked the location of journalists reporting on the company who had used its app, and one employee shared that data within the company. Other employees had turned on “God View,” an internal program, to track customers without their knowledge.

What is your prediction? Is Uber a victim of free market circumstance and remains for the people or is it becoming a new arm of corpramental Big Brother? Do you trust them?

Leave your comments below and share the discourse.

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