Uber wants to track your location even when you’re not using the app

Last month Uber launched a major update to it’s iOS app. As part of the update Uber is now asking customers to allow location data even when the app isn’t in use. For the privacy conscious this is a major concern.

Andrew J . Hawkins, Writing for The Verge

Apple typically offers three location-based settings: “Never”; “While Using the App”; and “Always.” Up until recently, Uber requested the “While Using the App” permission. But Apple gives developers the ability to effectively disable the “While Using the App” permission, forcing users to choose between “Never” and “Always,” which is exactly what Uber has done in its latest update.

“It felt pretty icky having to tap ‘Always’ knowing what I was giving up without any recourse,” one rider told The Verge. This source, who is also product lead at another Silicon Valley-based gig economy company and requested anonymity to vent, said that choosing “Never” effectively renders the Uber app useless.

“Why disable ‘While Using the App’? Empower users to decide what and when location data is shared,” the source complained. “I simply don’t trust Uber to limit their location tracking to ‘five minutes after the trip ends.’ There’s nothing I can do to enforce this as an end user given Uber’s removal of the ‘While Using the App’ setting.”

According Buzzfeed, Uber has been the target of privacy complaints in the past.

Uber has been the target of privacy complaints in the past. Last year, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint about Uber’s privacy policy with the Federal Trade Commission. The privacy rights group argued that Uber has a history of abusing riders’ location information. “Consumers are led to believe that they retain control over their personal data, when in fact they do not,” the complaint read. EPIC did not return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News about Uber’s latest location-tracking efforts.

And in January, Uber paid a $20,000 fine as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over failure to report unauthorized third-party access to drivers’ personal information and after BuzzFeed News reported that the company used an aerial tracking tool called “God View” to identify riders. As part of that settlement, the company also agreed to limit access to rider geolocation data to employees who needed it for “legitimate business purposes.”