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Uber to Stop Tracking Your Location After You Reach Your Destination

Rob McAllister

Rob McAllister

September 4, 2017

Lift hailing app Uber is reducing the period over which it collects your location data. The firm claims the move is part of an ongoing effort to improve privacy. However, the constant stream of negative press attached to the company makes the move seem less than public-spirited.

What’s All the Fuss About?

Back in November 2016, Uber introduced an update that restricted the choice users had over how much location data was shared with the app. The update, Uber said, allowed it to analyze the performance of drivers and the app. The app continued to store users’ data for five minutes after the trip ended.

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While users could opt out of the update, they were effectively left with two options. They could share all their location data from the time they booked the car until five minutes after the journey ended, or share nothing. Opting out meant manually entering your pick-up location and destination, thus reducing the app’s functionality.

Chief Security Officer for Uber, Joe Sullivan, claimed the features retraction, which is due to complete this Tuesday, had nothing to do with recent changes in the senior leadership team of the company.

Trouble at the Top

Uber confirmed today that former Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi would be taking the reins, ending days of speculation. The appointment comes after the departure of former CEO Travis Kalanick in June, following months of negative PR. Two former prospects for the top job, Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman and GE’s Jeff Immelt, had already tweeted that they were not interested in the position.

Uber’s Record

The last few months have seen a mass of public relations issues for Uber. In February, former employee Susan Fowler shared a blog post detailing her experiences of sexism within the company, which she described as ‘horrifying.’

In the latest bombshell, reported by the Wall Street Journal, a US Department of Justice investigation has been launched into alleged bribes offered to foreign officials. The investigation is in its preliminary stages and it is unclear as to the extent of the allegations.

This comes just weeks after the company settled a complaint with the US federal court, where it was claimed the firm failed to protect customers’ personal information, and was misleading about efforts to prevent snooping by employees.

This complaint was despite efforts by security chief Joe Sullivan, and the team he set up in 2015, to improve privacy and transparency at Uber.

Uber is claiming the move puts it on the road to openness. However, in light of mounting negative press, and huge investment in its main competitors abroad – Asian rival Grab has just secured huge investment from Toyota and Honda – the rollback does seem to be a sacrifice to the gods of public relations.

Although you can easily disable access to your location in your phone’s permissions, your location will obviously be the same as that of your driver. Going forward, Uber will not be able to see where you go when you reach your destination. As such, disabling the location tracker will only result in the reduced functionality of the app.

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Title image credit: vincenzo_mancuso/Shutterstock.com