Uber stops controversial user tracking after trip has ended

Uber will stop its controversial practice of tracking users for up to five minutes after a trip has ended, as it attempts to turn around its mired public image. Reports the Guardian

A change to the Uber app due to roll out this week will allow users to share location data only when actively using the app, stopping further tracking once a trip is complete, according to Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan.

The change comes as Uber recruits former Expedia chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi to head the company, filling the void left by ousted Uber founder Travis Kalanick and other top executives in June.

Sullivan leads a team of about 500 that has been working to beef up customer privacy at Uber since he joined in 2015. The chief security officer, who is a member of the executive leadership team that has been co-running Uber since Kalanick left, said: “We’ve been building through the turmoil and challenges because we already had our mandate.”

An update to the app made last November eliminated the option for users to limit data gathering to only when the app is in use, instead forcing them to choose between letting Uber always collect location data or never collect it.

Uber said it needed permission to always gather data in order to track riders for five minutes after a trip was completed, which the company said could help in ensuring customers’ physical safety. The option to never track required riders to manually enter pickup and drop-off addresses.

But the changes were met with swift criticism by some users and privacy advocates who called them a breach of user trust by a company already under fire for how it collects and uses customers’ data. Uber said it never actually began post-trip tracking for iPhone users and suspended it for Android users.

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