back to article Uber app will soon maybe track you 24/7, cry privacy warriors

Uber's smartphone app will soon track and report back the whereabouts of its users even when they're not using the software, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) now fears. The campaign group is also upset that the app may send copies of people's address books to Uber, and has filed a formal complaint to US …

  1. x 7

    thanks for the info

    Uber now uninstalled - I never used it anyway, especially after seeing the state of some of the cars in Manchester carrying their adverts

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The T&C

    After reading it.... nope never going to use it. There's an awful lot in there about "third-party" access to the info and "offers and promotions" which makes me think, there's a ton of ads flowing someone's way. Maybe from every place you pass in your journey?

  3. Mephistro Silver badge
    Angel

    "We care deeply about the privacy of our riders and driver-partners ..."

    Ahhh, there's nothing like the smell of corporate bullshit in the morning!

  4. PerspexAvenger

    Are you -sure- that's right?

    "the Uber app will use the smartphone's public IP address to get a rough idea of where they are geographically".

    Sooo... behind a big proxy in a datacentre somewhere?

    'Dammit! All these guys are in the Docklands! We need more drivers there!'

  5. Graham Lockley

    I'm struggling to see the advantage of Uber over just phoning a local, trusted taxi company that wont track me or serve adverts ?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Price

      Uber is cheaper because they don't have all the overhead of complying with the rules and regulations taxi services have to abide by especially in places like NYC or London that have regulations that artificially limit the number of taxis in town. But even beyond that the drivers don't have commercial insurance or even commercial driver's licenses, don't get benefits, aren't subject to fare regulation so they can get "surge pricing" when demand is high and more reasonable rates when it is low, unlike taxis that in most places have to charge the same price for the same trip 24x7x365 which mean they cost more than Uber most of the time.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Price

        Über are not particularly cheap compared to other minicab firms in London, some of which have their own apps that work in a similar way to Über's. The big difference with other minicab firms is that they will quote a price before sending the car to you, and that is the price you pay regardless of what happens on the roads afterwards. There are also apps that will give you quotes from a selection of different minicab firms along with an ETA, and you can pick the one you want.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      I'm assuming an honest question and I'm trying to answer the same way the best I can. I'm witnessing a rather interesting phenomenon where I live: an Android app similar to Uber is fast becoming quite popular, the interesting bit being that - unlike Uber - it's used exclusively by people who are already licensed cab drivers anyway, in their clearly marked cabs. As far as I know (I don't use the app myself, my best friend does) the price is the same; effectively, you get the exact same service you would have got calling one of the local cab companies - the drivers who choose to do so actually use the app during normal work hours, citing rides they get this way as an excuse for refusing dispatcher-originated calls.

      There are other advantages though: since drivers from all companies use the app, you get responses from all available cabs as opposed to calling a single company who might not even have any cars in the whole area; you get to pick the one promising to get there in the shortest amount of time, as opposed to the first bloke replying to his dispatcher; and you get to see in real-time your cab approaching on the map. Beside that there are also details like ranking / reputation systems involved that I don't know / care much about but even so I can see why my friend prefers to call cabs this way (and that's not even taking into account how people seem to prefer to conduct business without the hassle of the involving another human these days - I know I definitely do for one, all other things being equal...)

      1. DougS Silver badge

        @DropBear

        That sounds like a much more efficient system from the standpoint of the consumer, since one of the frustrating things about calling for a cab when you're somewhere you can't just hail one off the street whenever you want is having to call multiple cab companies. If I call one and they say "they'll be there in 20 minutes" should I take it, or call six other companies hoping there is someone who can serve me in 10? I want to call them all or use an app and find the closest guy - that's one of the reasons people will use Uber in larger cities where there is a critical mass of Uber drivers.

        So long as the cab company owners still get their cut they shouldn't care whether their drivers are doing this or going through dispatch. If enough did this, they could get rid of the dispatcher and save money.

  6. dan1980

    Sorry, I just don't understand the justification for tracking user locations at all. Yes, when you order a car, your location needs to be sent and for the duration of the ride, it can be monitored.

    But, as soon as the transaction has been completed, the need for tracking ends.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is this part of their plan to protect passengers from drivers? As someone above wrote, this is an application that allows you to summon a driver, who will take you somewhere. I'm sure that Uber would really like to keep tabs on their customers' locations so they can know that they weren't killed on the way.

  7. jonnycando

    I think

    That I will just walk.....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess... Now we know...

    ...Why Uber have the insane valuation they have. It isn't from future cuts of journeys taken.... Its how can we monetize our captured audience of plebs for the next hundred years...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just finished 'The Circle' by Dave Eggers and I've caught a real scare about these things...

  10. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Devil

    Aren't T&Cs a two-way street?

    "Uber will claim the right to collect personal contact information and detailed location data of American consumers, even when they are not using the service"

    So why can't I vary the contract by, say, a text message to Uber* to allow me to visit the Uber managers who think this is a good idea for discussions with my mailed fist?

    * Reading the text automatically signifies acceptance of the contract variation.

  11. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    Delete Uber? Confirm? Yes.

    Next please.

  12. Drew 11

    "These updated statements don't reflect a shift in our practices, they more clearly lay out the data we collect today"

    Read: "We're already tracking you 24/7 and have downloaded your contact. It's just that some spoilsport in the legal dept told us we had to stick that in the T&C's before someone found out we were doing it surreptitiously and sued our arses off."

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Thanks

      Thanks, you saved me some typing.

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