Popular ride-sharing company Uber is in the spotlight over concerns about the privacy of its users, including high profile riders like Beyoncé. Uber is a technology and transportation company that allows users to utilize its ride-sharing app to “hail” a ride. Once a user requests a ride, certain data like the user’s name and location is stored in the app. Uber also has access to additional details about riders, like their credit card information.
Most of the people who use the app to hail rides do so without thinking much about the possibility of being tracked, but they may need to think again. A former employee of Uber, Samuel Ward Spangenberg, has filed suit against the company. As part of the lawsuit, he claims that Uber doesn’t safeguard user data.
He alleges that riders are not informed of all of the data that is being tracked, which may include additional details besides a user’s name, location, and information to process payment. He alleges that Uber collects each user’s name, username, email, pickup location, the amount paid, the device used to access the app, and “other information.”
Uber is a unique service, in that, unlike a cab, where a user can ride, pay cash, and remain anonymous, Uber riders must use the app to request a ride, and to provide electronic payment information, which can easily be tracked and stored. The service is also unique because it is popular among celebrities and elite clientele.
There were previous reports that Uber tracked the location of popular users, including reporters and other high-profile figures. Uber has denied previous reports and the current allegations, stating that it takes user privacy seriously and has protocols in place to prevent Uber employees from accessing location and other information about riders.
Spangenberg is making additional claims against Uber, including age discrimination and retaliation, which Uber has also denied.
Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, the continued allegations about Uber’s ability to track the location of its users in real time may cause users to have continued concerns over privacy.