Uber has declared intentions to reverse a controversial decision that led to the collection of user location information after the end of trips. The feature allowed the app to track the riders for up to five minutes following trips which of course caused a real ruckus in pro-privacy forums.
According to company security head Joe Sullivan, this was a public relations step by the company which was having a rough time image wise, especially when it came to customer privacy. The reversal will restore the ability of users to only share location data when the app is in use.
Security Head Defends Location Sharing Tool
The post trip tracking tool was activated by Uber this past November after updates in the app started making the users choose between being tracked always or never at all, as opposed to the previous ability to share location when using the app. Those who selected the ‘never’ option would then manually have to enter picking and dropping locations instead of the usual suggestions as provided, meaning those who declined to track were now subjected to a lackluster user experience.
For the ones that felt forced to agree with having their location ‘always’ perceptible, Uber stated it would only track the users for five minutes after engine the trip. The reason for doing this was put on safety supposedly to improve pickups and drop offs.
Sullivan was quick to defend the company stating, the location tracking was not related to
the executive position changes. Apparently, they were trying to increase customer privacy along with his team since 2015. He claimed that they already had a mandate and so they
were working things as they came considering the present challenges Uber was facing.
Sullivan is currently one of the members on the leadership teams trying to run the company since the departure of Kalanick in June.
Breach of Trust Deals Blow to Uber
The previous months have been an ordeal for the company taking into account the steady succession public relations mines the company has been stumbling on. As such, customer relations have been reeling and this issue of customer privacy is not doing the company any favors.
The updates were obviously considered with increasing criticism from users and privacy advocates utilizing phrases like, ‘breach of user trust’, and other privacy related crimes. The trouble is the company is already under fire for the manner in which it collects and utilizes data from consumer having bought user data from other firms. In a weak defense argument, they claimed they had not begun tracking afterward for Apple users and had stopped it for the ones using Android.
He did admit that the company was mistaken in inquiring information from users while not making it clear on the values provided by the company in return. He further went on to state that if in the future the company decides that tracking the location of the rider is valuable, then they will seek and explain the inherent value and provide customers with a choice.
This comes as a ‘too little too late’ gesture as their approach said it all when introducing the feature. The fact that users who did not comply were subject to the manual keying of data so as to manipulate the masses using convenience shows they wanted to herd the majority to do it using subtle coercion. Unfortunately, they are not the only companies which have been caught pants down sampling the data jar of esteemed clients.