The Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) in the USA is not happy with how Uber’s policy uses your location and has submitted a complaint to the FTC.
Uber to track users when app is closed
Uber’s new policy apparently gives it the option to track the user when the app is closed and GPS is off. It would basically report approximate information using other methods. And it would also be able to access your address book and use the contact information there. There is, however, a simple thing that Android and iOS users can do to stop that – don’t grant the app permission when it asks to use your address book.
EPIC says: “This collection of users’ information far exceeds what customers expect from the transportation service. Users would not expect the company to collect location information when customers are not actively using the app”.
The new approach will apparently allow Uber to launch new promotional features that use contacts, such as the ability to send special offers to friends or family. The company also said that it does not plan to start tracking location and accessing contacts on July 15th, but the policy gives it the option to do so.
Uber says users will be able to opt out, but EPIC says that forcing them to opt out places an unreasonable burden on consumers. The group asked the FTC in the US to investigate Uber’s practices and stop it collecting location data that is unnecessary for the provision of the service, as well as to prevent it from accessing contact information.
However, the EPIC filing is not only limited to Uber, as it has asked the regulator to examine other companies with similar policies.
For its part, Uber says:
There is no basis for this complaint. We care deeply about the privacy of our riders and driver-partners and have significantly streamlined our privacy statements in order to improve readability and transparency. These updated statements don’t reflect a shift in our practices, they more clearly lay out the data we collect today and how it is used to provide or improve our services.