Previously, the ridesharing app Uber would only collect a user's location information while the person had the app open and in use. Now, however, Uber wants users to allow them to always collect your data—even when you're not using the app. Uber says the new features only collects data "from the time of trip request through five minutes after the trip ends" in order "to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety." However, privacy experts—and normal users—are concerned.
As NPR points out, iOS users' choices used to be "Never" share location and share location "While Using the App," and now they're just "Never" or "Always." That's raising concerns. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota told NPR that the new feature "raises questions" about whether users are required to "grant permission to track their location at all times."
Franken isn't the only person who's unhappy about the update:
Some users are sticking with the app, and simply turning the feature off when they're not using the app:
According to the Verge and other reports, users can "Never" share their location data and still manually enter their pick-up and drop-off addresses. However, for me and others, the app doesn't seem to work once you change from "Always" sharing your location data:
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, claiming the data collection threatens consumers' privacy rights, has already filed an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Even if Uber allows users to opt-out, as they claim, "this change in business practices places an unreasonable burden on consumers and is not easy to exercise," the complaint notes.
This isn't the first time Uber has had issues with privacy concerns. In January, Uber paid a $20,000 fine in New York after an investigation revealed an internal tool known as "God View," which allowed employees to view and track individual riders in real time, according to the Verge. Scary stuff.
Reached for comment, an Uber spokesperson told Complex, "We’re always thinking about ways we can improve the rider experience from sharpening our ETA estimates to identifying the best pick up location on any given street. Location is at the heart of the Uber experience, and we’re asking riders to provide us with more information to achieve these goals."