Is Uber spying on you? A former employee claims employees can watch your journeys
Uber has had its fair share of controversies over the years – and now it has another one, as a former employee has declared that the company actively watches what its customers are doing.
According to Uber’s former forensic investigator Ward Spangenberg: “Uber’s lack of security regarding its customer data was resulting in Uber employees being able to track high-profile politicians, celebrities and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees.” His words were heard in a court declaration over the matter of Uber’s poor data-privacy and -security measures. Five former security professionals from Uber corroborated Spangenberg’s claims, telling news site Reveal and the Center for Investigative Reporting that Uber allowed broad access to data from rides.
Naturally, Uber has defended itself against such accusations stating that it had “hundreds of security and privacy experts working around the clock” protecting its data.
“Uber continues to increase our security investments and many of these efforts, like our multi-factor authentication checks and bug bounty program, have been widely reported,” said an Uber spokesperson.
“This includes enforcing strict policies and technical controls to limit access to user data to authorised employees solely for purposes of their job responsibilities, and all potential violations are quickly and thoroughly investigated.”
Uber also denied claims that “all” or “nearly all” of its employees had access to consumer data, stating that “some teams have never had access to this information”. It also appears that all staff access to such information is logged and routinely audited.
This isn’t the first time that Uber has been in trouble over data privacy. In January Uber had to pay out a $20,000 (around £15,700) settlement after an investigation into privacy policies by New York’s attorney general. Also, Uber’s previous “God View” tool, which supposedly allowed employees to track any user they so wished, has been ditched as part of its promise to strengthen privacy policies.
The Uber spokesperson clarified that it’s now been replaced by a new tool known as “Heaven View”, but it’s unclear exactly how that differs from “God View”.
Regardless of what the outcome is from Spangenberg’s case against Uber, it’s worth remembering that, while useful, there could be a privacy price to pay alongside your cheap taxi journey home.