Uber employees reportedly accessed data to stalk celebrities like Beyoncé, politicians, and even exes, five former Uber employees told the Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting Monday. The accusations are all the more alarming following Uber’s recent request to track users’ locations even when users aren’t using the app.
Five former security employees from Uber spoke to Reveal. Ward Spangenberg, a former Uber forensic investigator who is suing the company for several reasons, said in an October court declaration: “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, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.” A former senior security engineer at Uber, Michael Sierchio, said private information was easily accessible. “When I was at the company, you could stalk an ex or look up anyone’s ride with the flimsiest of justifications. It didn’t require anyone’s approval,” Sierchio said.
Uber got in hot water back in 2014 when an Uber official used the company’s then-named God View to track a reporter. The tool, since renamed Heaven View, showed an aerial view of cars in real time and information about a car’s passenger(s).
Uber has denied the accusations, saying the complaints are “out of date.”
"It's absolutely untrue that 'all' or 'nearly all' employees have access to customer data, with or without approval," Uber said. "We have built [an] entire system to implement technical and administrative controls to limit access to customer data to employees who require it to perform their jobs. This could include multiple steps of approval—by managers and the legal team—to ensure there is a legitimate business case for providing access."