How is Über Using Our Data?

Today’s reading discussed some issues that Über has had with transparency and data sharing. Being able to feel safe while using the app is crucial for both drivers and riders, so some private information has to be sacrificed by both parties. But at what extent will the company place a limit on the information they are gathering from their users. In May of 2015, Über renewed its public privacy policies to align with the “interests of transparency”. While the revision in their policy attempted to better communicate with customers, it actually expanded the amount of data being collected by Über. The company’s new policy did not explain why or how long sensitive location information was being kept on record, simply saying that the retention of such information was a “benefit to riders”. Über also has de-identified ride information and released it to city officials in an effort to help future transportation and infrastructure planning goals.

However, in October 2016, Über released a major update that requires ever more location information to be shared by its users. An article written by Andrew J. Hawkins on “The Verge” outlines the before and after of this update. Previously users had the option to share their location with the app at 3 different lengths (always, never, or only while using the app). Working with Apple, Über eliminated the ‘only while using the app’ options forcing users to either opt in to full data sharing or to not share any location information at all, and having to manually enter every address they are getting picked up from. The app now also continues to track users up to five minutes after they have been dropped off at their desired location. I am not sure why this information is really that important other than Über wants to know where their users are going after their rides and what they are using the transportation app for. But they say this information will improve estimated pick up and arrival times and provide the most accurate transport information as possible.

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