Uber says iPhone app's alleged 24/7 tracking really fault of iOS Maps extension

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2016
Uber says that the iOS Maps extension is to blame for its iPhone app appearing to track location days or weeks after a person's last ride, rather than any deliberate snooping on its part.




"For people who choose to integrate ride sharing apps with iOS Maps, location data must be shared in order for you to request a ride inside the Maps app," an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. "Map extensions are disabled by default and you can choose to turn them on in your iOS settings."

Recently a number of non-daily riders discovered a gray arrow next to Uber under Settings > Privacy > Location Services, indicating that the app had been accessing their location within the past 24 hours. This immediately raised concerns that despite promises, Uber was monitoring people around the clock, intentionally or otherwise.

Indeed similar worries came up in November, when the company announced that its app would extend data collection to five minutes after a dropoff, as a means of refining both dropoff and pick-up accuracy. The company has also had more concrete incidents of abuse, such as spying on reporters, and staff using the company's software to stalk celebrities and ex-girlfriends.

The problem described by Uber could in theory apply to any app integrated with Maps, including its biggest competitor in the U.S. -- Lyft -- as well as apps that don't depend as heavily on real-time location, like OpenTable.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    As much as I dislike Uber's tactics, this issue with tracking seems to be shortcoming with Apple all around, and easily fixed with a future update.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    It sounds like they are trying to blame Apple for this one, but didn't Uber develop their Map extension?

  • Reply 3 of 17
    No, it is just bad coding on Ubers Side. Like regular apps there are more cases where an extension gets ewoked. Requesting permissions when you need them and not allways. Hire real senior davs if neccesary and not kids fresh from school.
  • Reply 4 of 17
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    Grimzahn said:
    No, it is just bad coding on Ubers Side. Like regular apps there are more cases where an extension gets ewoked. Requesting permissions when you need them and not allways. Hire real senior davs if neccesary and not kids fresh from school.
    How is it Uber's fault that Apple only has a Never, While Using, and Always option, the later of which indicates the last 24 hours? They've been clear that they're only trying to see the next 5 minutes to better understand where people go after exiting their ride. Maybe they are lying, but to what extent and why? 5 minutes or even 10 minutes sounds reasonable for what the company does.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    No, it is just bad coding on Ubers Side. Like regular apps there are more cases where an extension gets ewoked. Requesting permissions when you need them and not allways. Hire real senior davs if neccesary and not kids fresh from school.
    How is it Uber's fault that Apple only has a Never, While Using, and Always option, the later of which indicates the last 24 hours? They've been clear that they're only trying to see the next 5 minutes to better understand where people go after exiting their ride. Maybe they are lying, but to what extent and why? 5 minutes or even 10 minutes sounds reasonable for what the company does.

    Are you kidding????   It's pretty scary how you have been conditioned to think it's reasonable for a company to track you to see were you go for five or ten minutes after they drop you off.  Wow.  This is how we will eventually descend into the panopticon society that many fear.  Google is pushing the hardest to get us there, but it's alarming how many people have already ceded so much of their privacy to large multi-national corporations.  Many of those same people would have a fit if the government wanted to do it, but the government at least has some oversight (not that I would support it in any way) whereas Uber and Google have none.  They get to keep your information forever and essentially do whatever they want with it.  Sad.
    lostkiwi80s_Apple_Guyfotoformatjahbladedasanman69mac_dogcyberzombie
  • Reply 6 of 17
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    Notsofast said:
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    No, it is just bad coding on Ubers Side. Like regular apps there are more cases where an extension gets ewoked. Requesting permissions when you need them and not allways. Hire real senior davs if neccesary and not kids fresh from school.
    How is it Uber's fault that Apple only has a Never, While Using, and Always option, the later of which indicates the last 24 hours? They've been clear that they're only trying to see the next 5 minutes to better understand where people go after exiting their ride. Maybe they are lying, but to what extent and why? 5 minutes or even 10 minutes sounds reasonable for what the company does.

    Are you kidding????   It's pretty scary how you have been conditioned to think it's reasonable for a company to track you to see were you go for five or ten minutes after they drop you off.  Wow.  This is how we will eventually descend into the panopticon society that many fear.  Google is pushing the hardest to get us there, but it's alarming how many people have already ceded so much of their privacy to large multi-national corporations.  Many of those same people would have a fit if the government wanted to do it, but the government at least has some oversight (not that I would support it in any way) whereas Uber and Google have none.  They get to keep your information forever and essentially do whatever they want with it.  Sad.
    1) It's 5 minutes, when the only other option is Always. Why is Always an acceptable option but not 5 minutes?

    2) You can disable any and all location tracking in Settings » Privacy » Location Services.
    edited December 2016 gatorguy
  • Reply 7 of 17
    On a semi-related note:

    Uber lost $800M in Q3.

    Some have speculated that Apple's Project Titan will focus on ride-sharing, not ownership of electric vehicles.  If so, I hope that Apple has a better financial model than Uber.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-20/uber-s-loss-exceeds-800-million-in-third-quarter-on-1-7-billion-in-net-revenue
  • Reply 8 of 17
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    On a semi-related note:

    Uber lost $800M in Q3.

    Some have speculated that Apple's Project Titan will focus on ride-sharing, not ownership of electric vehicles.  If so, I hope that Apple has a better financial model than Uber.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-20/uber-s-loss-exceeds-800-million-in-third-quarter-on-1-7-billion-in-net-revenue
    Why did they lose that much? Poor management (i.e.: frivolous spending), drop in customers to competitors, drop in customers due to business model failing, or because of their focus on investments. While I dislike Uber they do seem to be investing in a lot for the future, which I do support.
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 9 of 17
    WinturmuteWinturmute Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    No, it is just bad coding on Ubers Side. Like regular apps there are more cases where an extension gets ewoked. Requesting permissions when you need them and not allways. Hire real senior davs if neccesary and not kids fresh from school.
    How is it Uber's fault that Apple only has a Never, While Using, and Always option, the later of which indicates the last 24 hours? They've been clear that they're only trying to see the next 5 minutes to better understand where people go after exiting their ride. Maybe they are lying, but to what extent and why? 5 minutes or even 10 minutes sounds reasonable for what the company does.
    It's Uber's fault that they took away the "While Using" option. The only options I see under Location Services for the Uber app are "Always" and "Never". I'm choosing "Never" until they bring back the "While Using" option.
    lostkiwijahbladebonobob
  • Reply 10 of 17
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    No, it is just bad coding on Ubers Side. Like regular apps there are more cases where an extension gets ewoked. Requesting permissions when you need them and not allways. Hire real senior davs if neccesary and not kids fresh from school.
    How is it Uber's fault that Apple only has a Never, While Using, and Always option, the later of which indicates the last 24 hours? They've been clear that they're only trying to see the next 5 minutes to better understand where people go after exiting their ride. Maybe they are lying, but to what extent and why? 5 minutes or even 10 minutes sounds reasonable for what the company does.
    It's Uber's fault that they took away the "While Using" option. The only options I see under Location Services for the Uber app are "Always" and "Never". I'm choosing "Never" until they bring back the "While Using" option.
    Yes, it is Uber's decision to remove the While Using option and I blame them for removing that intermediate option that forces many users to agree to Always, but that's not what's being discussed.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Pretty sure that article title should read "a fault", not "at fault". 
    bonobob
  • Reply 12 of 17
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 195member
    I don't trust a single thing this wretched company says. Once bitten...
    tokyojimu
  • Reply 13 of 17
    Soli said:
    Grimzahn said:
    No, it is just bad coding on Ubers Side. Like regular apps there are more cases where an extension gets ewoked. Requesting permissions when you need them and not allways. Hire real senior davs if neccesary and not kids fresh from school.
    How is it Uber's fault that Apple only has a Never, While Using, and Always option, the later of which indicates the last 24 hours? They've been clear that they're only trying to see the next 5 minutes to better understand where people go after exiting their ride. Maybe they are lying, but to what extent and why? 5 minutes or even 10 minutes sounds reasonable for what the company does.
    Having the three options is necessary for clearness and simplicity for consumers.  Having a gray area of keeping track of your location for five minute or an hour after the app closes creates some ambiguity of when and how much your location is being tracked.  The simple options of never, while using, and always makes it clear cut.  

    Additionally, tracking user's locations for an additional five minutes is an invasion of one's privacy.  It's essentially the equivalent of you going into a store and then having somebody follow you for the next 5-10 minutes after you leave.  Just because it's digital and you don't have an actual person following you, doesn't make it any more acceptable.
    Rayz2016mac_dog
  • Reply 14 of 17
    Nope. I do not have that integration turned on and I also get the tracking warning. 
  • Reply 15 of 17
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,789member
    The last I used Uber it was a terrible experience. The car was filthy inside and smelled like cigarettes and the driver was quite rude and argumentative. I knew where I was going, just the car dealership where my auto was being serviced, but his app was telling him to go the wrong way, at least from the perspective of a local who knows the best route. I complained and they refunded my fare. My office co-worker had a similar experience but still uses them however only the Black service which is very professional from what I hear.
    edited December 2016 mac_dog
  • Reply 16 of 17
    Waze does the same thing. Either "Never" or "Always". Other apps allow "When using". I'm not sure if i care who is to blame here, but I would like to see it changed. I chose "Never" in these apps until I need to use them, which I have basically agreed to give up my privacy during that time. Heck, I probably gave up my privacy just by installing the apps. ;-)
  • Reply 17 of 17

    That's all fine and dandy, but how is Uber getting Apple Maps to work here in India? AFAIK, they must be using Google Maps here since Apple Maps still doesn't provide directions.

    Of course, given that it is the same app everywhere, we also only have the "Always" and "Never" options.

    But, wherever the fault lies, it is a pain to turn on Location Services before booking a ride and then turning it off manually once the ride is completed. Uber can blame Apple Maps, but them removing the "While Using" option for tracking raises a lot of red flags.

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