Uber has Set Up a Database for Rider Location
Privacy in the modern Digital Age is a concept that is likely to remain complicated for a very long time. Although privacy is meant to be a human right, people give it up freely on a daily basis to make their lives easier, in search of information or just to use social media and other online services. People should consider protecting their privacy and still enjoy the numerous benefits of technological and services advancements in their efforts to improve their lives.
Companies especially those in the technology industry take advantage of the technological and services enhancements very often. For example, these companies might launch new services. Similarly, they may upgrade some important features so that some additional data is needed for full functionality. The companies take advantage of the fact that people have the tendency of following the mainstream, especially when coming to online services and apps. By so doing, people are unable to stay away from some of the greatest and latest upgrades even when their basic privacy needs are at risk.
Uber Changes its Methods of Data Collection
The latest company to take advantage of technology advancements is Uber. The company has changed its methods for data collection through its latest update. Before the update, customers were only asked about their location prior pickups so that the drivers could establish their position. Additionally, location data was not collected during the trip or after the end of the journey. However, things are not the same anymore, and the old practice is scheduled to change. Reports show that the company has begun accessing the background data of the user prior he/she has used Uber, during the trip and about five minutes after the journey. According to the company, it has begun to do so in an effort to improve the services it offers.
Why has Uber taken this step?
People don’t like revealing their private information and the new move by Uber has not been received well. However, Uber explains that people don’t have to panic and the move is aimed at making its services better. For starters, the new move will allow for a richer access to background location information, and this will help ensure that the app responds much faster. For example, the app will now be in a position to propose nearby drivers immediately the user opens it. Most importantly, with the new advancement, it is now easier for drivers to carry-out more precise drop-offs and pick-up points. Currently, Uber drivers have to get in touch with the potential riders by calling them in order to find out their exact location. This has been viewed as a long process and tedious at the same time. In addition to calling their potential riders, drivers have to instantly determine the exact points for drop-offs, which can prove to be a safety risk for the riders and the drivers.
Additionally, Uber is looking forward to using the new update to track the frequency of directly crossing the streets by the riders after drop-offs. According to Uber, crossing the streets directly after drop-offs has for a long time been a safety hazard, and the new update will help rectify the risk. According to their spokesperson, it is not safe for riders to directly cross the street after drop-offs even when they want to quickly arrive at their destination. He added that tracking users after drop-offs will help detect whether drivers drop-off their riders at risky places.
Although the new changes for background location data collection may surprise many, the company started planning for the change late last year. In addition, Uber updated its policy about privacy last summer in order to allow for the collection of background location data and this lead to a backlash from some privacy groups.
Companies that filed complaints against Uber claimed that the new collection of background location data was against the law and a misleading trade practice. However, Uber has cleared the air about any malicious intent and is, in fact, getting the consent of its riders’ prior beginning the collection of their background location data. Additionally, the company has disseminated a link that tries to explain the necessary alterations to help users update their GPS.
In an effort to address the different privacy groups’ concerns, the Office of the Attorney General in New York agreed with Uber back in January that, the user location data should at all times remain encrypted from the phone of the user while in transit. Similarly, user location data should be encrypted between the GPS data stored by Uber and its servers and should be protected using multi-factor authentication.
Nevertheless, some users are still not comfortable with the idea of Uber to track them especially after leaving their drivers’ cars. Uber has advised that riders who are unwilling to share the additional location data should consider turning off location sharing. It is evident that Uber is only trying to improve its services by collecting extra background location data of its riders.