back to article So thoughtful. Uber says it won't track you after you leave their vehicles

Amid heavy criticism over how it handles user privacy, Uber has agreed to not track riders after their trips end. The ride-hailing company has infamously faced legal suits on previous occasions over privacy issues, including software for tracking high-profile individuals, the acquaintances of Uber employees and even drivers …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why track in the first place?

    Aren't you tracking the driver? So why do you think that you need to track your customers?

    Sorry Uber. I'm not going to play ball and use any service that tracks me.

    I really hope that the people who have loaned you heaps of money decide to call in their loans TODAY and you go to the wall tomorrow.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Why track in the first place?

      The reason they were tracking in the first place is because of their "Greyball" program to detect law enforcement officers doing test purchases.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Why track in the first place?

        The reason they were tracking in the first place is because of their "Greyball" program to detect law enforcement officers doing test purchases.

        Now that was a pretty piss poor excuse from then if ever I heard one. Same for the excuse of tracking customers when the driver data is available. I won't go into the other things wrong with Uber but it appears that manglement took Ethics 101 in school and used the "don't do this" to mean "do this". Given the choice of Uber or Shanks' Mare, I'll take the later thank you.

    2. SuccessCase

      Re: Why track in the first place?

      But the simple fact is iOS11, which will probably be on general release in a couple of weeks time, has incorporated a big blue indicator banner at the top of the screen naming and shaming apps utilising background tracking (they can no longer do so surreptitiously - the previous small location indicator arrow was too obscure and most user's wouldn't go to settings to check which app had triggered it).

      If an app uses location tracking all the time, customer's will be asking why and will get annoyed that the big blue banner keeps displaying, and will probably also disallow location tracking when the app is not in use. Uber of course know this, so pretending to have come over all caring about customer privacy simply doesn't wash. Indeed that they have come out with this now, after they will have been running the software on the iOS11 beta for a couple of months, and will have realised how untrustworthy that banner reveals them to be, IMO simply shows what cynical wankers they are.

    3. Brangdon

      Re: Why track in the first place?

      The official reason is to check that the driver dropped you off at the correct place, on the correct side of the road. If tracking shows you crossed the road immediately after being dropped off, the driver probably wasn't giving service as high as possible.

  2. Josco

    Pretty boring tracking me

    Home - pub

    Pub - home

    Home - pub - 'nother pub - home pleesh

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pretty boring tracking me

      So what? Nobody should be tracking your descent into incoherence except maybe your other half :)

    2. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

      Re: Pretty boring tracking me

      My taxi company don't need no app to track me. I always ring up in person but I noticed from the call logs on my phone the other day the average call duration is nine seconds. The conversation proceeds at normal pace, just so much context is implied by routine I need only say how long it is before I want picking up from the pub.

  3. Paul 164

    App update descriptions

    A great example of apps using the generic "we update the software regularly so we can make it better for you", whilst sneaking in new code to do this kind of thing and who knows what else.

    About time the App Store made this kind of description against the TOS and forced app developers to tell users what they are updating... Then again, the likes of Facebook would probably just threaten removing their app from iOS and Apple would cave in.

    1. Tabor

      Re: App update descriptions

      I fully agree with the necessity for somewhat more descriptive than "general bug fixes". And oddly enough, the Microsoft apps I use usually have a decent list of changes when updates are available (as opposed to security Windows updates on my laptop).

      1. Rimpel
        FAIL

        Re: App update descriptions

        Like the mysterious windows 10 update KB4033637 that was released yesterday and doesn't have an entry on the MS website

        https://support.microsoft.com/en-my/help/4033637

        https://www.computerworld.com/article/3220527/microsoft-windows/undocumented-patch-kb-4033637-pushed-onto-win10-1607-machines.html

  4. Aladdin Sane

    Uber doing someting shady

    The day must end in a "y".

  5. RyokuMas
    Joke

    Makes me laugh...

    ... that people get in such a tizzy about this, but happily use Google search, Android phones, Windows 10-powered PCs etc...

    Guess they must have actually read those EULAs and accept that they're being tracked...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Makes me laugh...

      You may get down voted (let's ignore the obligatory one), but you are spot on.

      People huff and puff about Uber tracking(easily removed by not using it), yet will be using an android phone which will be tracking and blabbing on you constantly (I don't own iOS, so can't comment on that)

      Don't get me wrong, I don't like the idea of them tracking you, but there are is a bigger elephant in the room.

      1. Prosthetic Conscience
        Meh

        Re: Makes me laugh...

        So what if there's a bigger elephant in the room, we can sort the smaller ones as well, no?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Makes me laugh...

        Some of us don't use android, google and all the rest (especially Uber) but we are very much in the minority but like everyone we need to be constantly on our guard in case something slips through and starts leaking everything we do to the various TLA's, Ad Slingers and the rest of the evil barstewards.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Makes me laugh...

          I use Android on BlackBerry. No problem turning off individual rights in each application. I'd assumed this was standard in Android, but obviously not. If an app doesn't work with the rights I'm willing to give, it's just uninstalled.

          1. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: Makes me laugh...

            "I use Android on BlackBerry. No problem turning off individual rights in each application. I'd assumed this was standard in Android, but obviously not."

            It is standard, and has been since Android 5 or 6. It's not a lot of help with background tracking though, since most of the apps involved have a good reason to want your location some of the time and won't work if you don't allow it - Uber need to know where you are in order to pick you up, the problem is that once you've allowed them that permission they can use it any time they like. Even making it more obvious when an app is doing this, as Apple are planning, doesn't really help, since there's still nothing you can do about it other than refusing to use the app in question, and it's clear most people aren't actually willing to do that.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Makes me laugh...

              "Even making it more obvious when an app is doing this, as Apple are planning, doesn't really help, since there's still nothing you can do about it other than refusing to use the app in question, and it's clear most people aren't actually willing to do that."

              If it's not previously been clear to users that an app is tracking them than it's by no means clear that people aren't willing to do without it.

    2. I Like Heckling Silver badge

      Re: Makes me laugh...

      It's not that hard to fudge the results and make data collection next to useless to any of these companies.

  6. iron Silver badge

    Yet another reason

    to never use Uber. Not that I needed another one.

    1. a_yank_lurker

      Re: Yet another reason

      Dear Uber, taxi companies do not track me when I ride with them why do you?

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Yet another reason

        Taxi companies aren't worried that you might be a transport authority officer who is doing a test purchase.

    2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Yet another reason

      .. sigh. But Uber is really convenient. I mean, way more convenient than finding a minicab number and calling it. Especially if you aren't in your home town.

      Plus, cheaper. (Yes, I know, subsidised, but still).

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Yet another reason

        Other minicab apps exist, certainly in the UK. Some of them give you quotes from a number of firms and let you pick the one you want. Über wasn't even the first one available.

  7. Tabor

    while using

    Usually on my iPhone it's pretty simple : if an app wants my location and I consider it interesting *for me*, I allow it while using. If the options are always or never, it's never.

    That makes me wonder though : if an app supports this at first but then weasels out, what's the default for iOS ? Will it revert to always, never, or just pop up the question again ? Does anyone know ?

    1. Ed

      Re: while using

      Good question, but iOS 11 is removing the ability for apps to force you to give it permission either all the time or never, so all apps will support 'while using', so this becomes irrelevant then.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Dear Uber

    The only data you need from me is

    - where I am

    - where I want to go

    - er

    - nothing else

    The phone doesn't know where I am, except by triangulating towers, so you're going to have to take my word on that one, and the other's on the map. Once the journey is over and paid for, so is our relationship. You don't talk to me, ever, and I'll talk to you if I want another ride.

    Come to think of it, that applies to just about every other transaction either over the net or on the high street... I'll call you when I want you.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A very useful feature beaten down by unthinking liberal do-gooders...

    In the same way that Samaritans Radar was cut short by the indignant shrieking and howling of people who'd never need it, this facility is actually there to help people as it means that there is a record of where someone is for five minutes after they leave an Uber. Given that most Uber riders are drunk twenty-something self-entitled arts students who couldn't find their arse with their elbow on a clear day, this tracking could save all sorts of potential hazards and problems - everything from straightforward passing out to abductions and attacks. But too bad, you want a safe world - here's technology making you safe. Do some thinking, people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A very useful feature beaten down by unthinking liberal do-gooders...

      You are an Uber shill and I claim my £5!

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: A very useful feature beaten down by unthinking liberal do-gooders...

        You are an Uber shill...

        ...and an uber-troll.

        1. JimC

          Re: Uber shill... ...and an uber-troll.

          I dunno, isn't one of the lessons of the Internet that there is no moral or philosophical position, no matter how dumb, illogical or plain ridiculous, that you cannot find someone to aggressively espouse? Still, must admit, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rule of the internet

            If the increasing number of opinions and misunderstandings of facts is any indication, it's not just the internet!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A very useful feature beaten down by unthinking liberal do-gooders...

      Nice trolling. Just the right level of indigence and plausible outrage. I give this a 7/10. Maybe add some poor spelling and bad grammar next time.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: A very useful feature beaten down by unthinking liberal do-gooders...

      Dear Anonymous Coward

      Can you give me one example of Über using the data for this purpose? When have you ever contacted the police / ambulance department to inform them that a customer's location data gives you cause for concern?

      Besides, I'm not sure the location data is accurate enough to tell the difference between someone lying unconscious in the street outside their home, and someone lying in bed inside their home. It would be in range of the same wifi routers, and GPS is accurate to about 20 meters.

      Also, how much did Über pay you for writing your comment?

    4. Andy Mac

      Re: A very useful feature beaten down by unthinking liberal do-gooders...

      I notice that the main criticisms of the left by the right is that they are "bleeding hearts" and "do-gooders". Like empathy and "doing good" are bad things.

      1. JimC

        Re:Like empathy and "doing good" are bad things.

        Well they are if they are counter productive. If the ends can't justify the means, for sure the means can't justify the ends. If I am empathetic about the fears and frights of children being forced to have needles and drugs stuck in them, and ban vaccination, a conspiracy of the evil pharmaceutical companies, am I doing a good thing?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why quit tracking after only five minutes?

      Keep tracking them forever after they've left an Uber. You might fall down a well two weeks later, and Uber can be heroes by sending a driver out there to rescue you!

    6. Tannin

      Re: A very useful feature beaten down by unthinking liberal do-gooders...

      You deserve a down vote, of course, on the other hand, the little gem "given that most Uber riders are drunk twenty-something self-entitled arts students who couldn't find their arse with their elbow on a clear day", you deserve an up vote. Sadly, I don't think the software allows both.

  10. Flakk

    "Hopefully, this will send a message to other companies that customers don’t like being tracked without their consent," she added.

    Yes, though I suspect that the interpretation will be that they'll need to devise sneakier methods of performing their unpopular data slurping.

  11. Haku

    It's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.

    Asking for forgivness needs to be more difficult, then people & corporations wouldn't get away with so much underhanded crap.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jail terms as per VW emissions fixing?

    What Uber did across the aboard was illegal... Revising T&C / Paltry fines / lawsuits from Epic / EFF won't ever fix this! I actively boycott companies now that no longer offer a way to do business offline and via cash. Why? You know they're going to fuck you... Or sell / peddle your info to the lowest common denominator without proper disclosure / conscious permission!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber...

    So slimy that they give Slime-balls 'The Creeps'.

    Maybe they'd like to hire me as their Ethics Officer. I think that a starting salary of about $25M per month should make it worth my while... ...to pay for all the boiling hot showers and scrubbed-raw skin each evening.

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