You are here: Home » International » News » Companies
Business Standard

Privacy push: Uber to roll back feature that tracks riders after trip ends

Uber said it needed permission to always gather data in order to track riders

Reuters 

Uber

Technologies Inc is pulling a heavily criticized feature from its app that allowed it to track riders for up to five minutes after a trip, its security chief told Reuters, as the ride-services company tries to fix its poor reputation for customer privacy.

The change, which restores users’ ability to share location data only while using the app, is expected to be announced on Tuesday and rolled out to Inc (AAPL.O) users starting this week. It comes as tries to recover from a series of crises culminating in the ouster of Chief Executive Travis and other top executives.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of travel-booking company Expedia Inc (EXPE.O) is set to become Uber’s new chief executive, sources have told Reuters.

The location-tracking update is unrelated to executive changes, said Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, in an interview with Reuters. and his team of about 500 have been working to beef up customer privacy at since he joined in 2015.

“We’ve been building through the turmoil and challenges because we already had our mandate,” said Sullivan, who is a member of the executive leadership team that has been co-running since left in June.

An update to the app made last November eliminated the option for users to limit data gathering to only when the app is in use, instead forcing them to choose between letting always collect location data or never collect it.

said it needed permission to always gather data in order to track riders for five minutes after a trip was completed, which the company believed could help in ensuring customers’ physical safety. The option to never track required riders to manually enter pickup and drop-off addresses.

But the changes were met with swift criticism by some users and privacy advocates who called them a breach of user trust by a company already under fire for how it collects and uses customers’ data. said it never actually began post-trip tracking for users and suspended it for Android users.

said made a mistake by asking for more information from users without making clear what value would offer in return. If decides that tracking a rider’s location for five minutes is valuable in the future, it will seek to explain what the value is and allow customers to opt in to the setting, he said.

said was committed to privacy but had previously suffered “a lack of expertise” in the area.

The change comes two weeks after settled a U.S. Federal Trade Commission complaint that the company failed to protect the personal information of drivers and passengers and was deceptive about its efforts to prevent snooping by its employees.

agreed to conduct an audit every two years for the next 20 years to ensure compliance with FTC requirements.

The location-tracking changes will initially only be available to users, but intends to bring parity to Android devices, said.

The changes are part of a series of updates expected in the coming year to improve privacy, security and transparency at Uber, said.

First Published: Tue, August 29 2017. 11:08 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU