Uber to allow background location tracking in privacy policy update

in iPhone edited June 2015
Starting July 15, ridesharing service Uber will update its privacy policies to allow tracking of a user's location in the background, the company revealed in a blog post.

The change is meant to "get people on their way more quickly," the company said. As it stands, the Uber mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone can only fetch location once open, sometimes creating a slight delay.

Another policy change will see the company ask for contact permissions in order to send "special offers" to family and friends.

Uber has encountered a number of privacy controversies, such as an incident in which its leading New York executive tracked a Buzzfeed journalist using an internal Uber tool known as God View. The software isn't open to individual drivers, but is accessible at the corporate level, and displays not just the location of Uber vehicles but also those of people who have requested a ride.

To allay fears, Uber said in the blog post that people will have to opt in to the changes. In the case of location tracking, the company is promising not to save a record of past trips.

Uber is acutely aware of public perception regarding data privacy and has been bolstering its legal team to handle the legal side of such matters. Most recently, the company hired away Apple legal counsel and privacy law specialist Sabrina Ross to handle strategic Uber partnerships and regulatory policy issues.


  • Reply 1 of 12
    tomhayestomhayes Posts: 128member

    Creeps be creepy

  • Reply 2 of 12
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,722member
    iOS allows users to turn off location tracking, etc. at the app level (Privacy -> Location Services). And [B][I]this[/I][/B] is why that's needed. "While Using" is one thing, "Always" is something else entirely. There is no valid reason for apps like these to have 24/7 location data.

    Same thing with Contact data... SMH
  • Reply 3 of 12
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,152member

    I've already shunned the notion of services like Uber, because despite their best efforts, you REALLY don't know the person driving the car you're getting into. Bad enough with cab drivers, but this is even worse.


    Now they wanna track me ALL THE TIME?!?!?! Just reinforces my stance on NEVER using services like these, EVER!

  • Reply 4 of 12
    dtm1212dtm1212 Posts: 11member
    Wow. Until I know more - I've deleted the Uber app and will not use it again. Sad, it works so well.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    leavingthebiggleavingthebigg Posts: 1,166member

    It is interesting this change is occurring AFTER an "Apple legal counsel and privacy law specialist" was hired away from Apple. Was she unhappy having to respect user privacy at Apple and chose to work for a company that does not need to have 24/7 access to my locations and contact information? Is Uber not confident enough that someone would recommend its service to his/her family and friends IF the service is worthy of being recommend? To me, this sounds way too much like something Google would do. (Case in point... Photos).


    It is interesting that this story is breaking tonight. Two Android friends were trying to contact Uber for service and for some reason had problems doing so. Once Uber was reached, one of them decided Uber was too expensive. Seeing that this endeavor should not be so tedious, I whipped out my iPhone and gave them favorite city taxi service number. All was done in about 7 minutes.


    I have heard horror and rave stories about Uber, but I have chosen to just stick with my regular city taxi service when needed. The taxi cab can tracked from my points A to B, but that's about it. The taxi cab service does not need to know where I am AFTER the service has been rendered. And, the taxi cab service most definitely does not need to know who exists in my Contacts!

  • Reply 6 of 12
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member
    Wouldn't tracking constantly drain the phone battery?

    And they need to bolster their ethics team, not their legal department.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    pigybankpigybank Posts: 169member
    As a Lyft driver, I could care less. The Uber drivers where I live are rude, dirty, and unprofessional. Might as well take a cab. All of the Lyft drivers I know are professional, clean, and courteous. Plus, who doesn't like good mustache ride?
  • Reply 8 of 12
    gcvgcv Posts: 12member
    I contacted Uber to ask about opting out of its having access to my personal contacts which enables Uber to send those people spam and unsolicited marketing emails. The whole concept really, really makes me angry. The response I got was that all of the information collected is encrypted so I shouldn't worry - which evaded the entire point. I don't give a rip if it is encrypted. Uber should not have this sort of access. (Maybe it's Uber's version of The Patriot Act and the ability to unjustifiably collect droves of personal information on us all.)

    I don't want companies trolling my personal data like contacts, and using it to essentially harrass my friends and family. If I can't opt out I will no longer use Uber. This new policy is the ultimate in sleazy business practices. It is not like Uber doesn't make money from other means, like the fares we users pay to use the service.

    I think this comes down to unmitigated greed, and the ability to sell that data base when Uber has its IPO.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    jameskatt2jameskatt2 Posts: 720member

    That is very creepy.  Uber now wants to track your location at all times.  


    That could be a useful resource for the police, FBI, NSA, hackers, etc.

  • Reply 10 of 12

    Well, that pretty much settles the question of me ever using Uber, as either a passenger or a driver.

  • Reply 11 of 12

    I've been a driver for Uber since last Spring and their business tactics are sleazy. They dropped the fares by 25% and said, according to their tests this brought a net gain of 5% so they were sticking with it and sort of insinuated drivers should be thankful. What they fail to mention is that the 5% gain doesn't cost them anything but the drivers all had to drive about 40% more miles to get that extra 5% and that's before they have to pay all that extra gas and wear and tear on their cars. Uber takes their cut off the top so the drivers are left to eat those extra expenses.


    Uber has fuzzy math down to a science in their marketing dept. and most drivers just don't do the math to understand that they're practically driving for free.


    Uber could care less about their drivers and for quite a while now they've been coasting on the early buzz of drivers making $30 or more an hour. After months of watching my numbers I'm convinced I make less than 12 an hour. I went out one afternoon last week and worked four hours and my payout from Uber was actually less than what I spent on gas. Now that LA is raising its minimum wage to 15 bucks I'll be making less than minimum wage while completely wrecking my Jeep, which was in excellent condition last Spring and now has a list of stuff that needs to be fixed.


    You should seriously consider other options before driving for Uber. Even those kids delivering pizza make more money.


    And, as a rider, if you ever agree to a surge pricing you just have money to burn -- Lyft doesn't charge surges, call a Lyft car instead and save a small fortune.


    Fortunately, I've got other irons in the fire so won't have to deal with Uber again. As a driver OR a rider.

  • Reply 12 of 12
    I started using Uber less than three months ago. After hearing all of the good things and bad things about the company, I decided to take a chance and sign up.

    For the first time in my life, I could guarantee access to a ride home. Typically, I travel to downtown offices or to historic homes in affluent areas for conference and special event site visits. Taxis in my city often discriminate and will not pick up a passenger because they assume that skin color somehow indicates your destination. These assumptions make hailing a taxi more challenging than trying to find a needle in a haystack. On a rainy day, it is simply impossible. Taxis which have no passengers will speed by me.

    With Uber, all of that changed. I could request a ride and know that the car would arrive and take me to my destination. I no longer had to contend with a driver stating that they didn't know the directions to where I was going, that they couldn't drive to my destination because they were going home or that they needed to drop me off before arriving at my destination because traffic is so bad. Using Uber gave me the opportunity to be like any other passenger and to experience the luxury that others take for granted: getting a ride to wherever I want to go.

    Now, the upcoming change in Uber's Privacy Policy means that I will have to stop using their service. I do not want to be tracked and, I certainly don't want to give Uber permission to access my contacts. If my contacts wanted to use Uber, they would create an Uber account on their own. I do not wish to be responsible for putting the privacy of my family and friends at risk. Therefore, I will soon say farewell to Uber. It was great while it lasted. Onwards to the alternative: buying a car of my own.
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