Uber Sends Its NYC Customers Scary Alert About Data Collection

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Uber tries to act like a champion of data privacy, encourages its NYC customers to protest against the city’s new data collection regulation.

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Uber, the ride-hailing app that recently made headlines for its new app feature that could track riders for five minutes after dropping them off, is now prompting its users to raise their voice against new rules that require ride services to share destination information with the city.

Talk about irony.

The company notified its passengers of the new city regulations in a rather scary email, encouraging them to send an objection email to New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) – the body that regulates taxi and ride-hailing services.

“Today, New York City requires Uber and other companies to hand over a lot of sensitive personal passenger data, including where you’re picked up on every trip. Now, New York City wants more. They’re trying to force companies to tell them where you’re dropped off, as well,” the company said in an email. “In other words, they want to piece together the full details of every trip you ever take.”

The email also led users to an auto-generated tweet that includes the hashtag #TLCDontTrackMe, noting the new policy creates “serious privacy risks” and “would give the government and anyone else who accesses this information a comprehensive, 360-degree view into the movements and habits of individual New Yorkers.”

Meanwhile, as The Washington Post reports, the data collection regulation is a part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative. Apparently, the city authorities want to use the rider information to calculate how long drivers are working for without getting any rest. The government claims it is trying to combat driver fatigue by tracking the trip time.

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“We actually get zero passenger data,” said TLC representative Allan Fromberg. “They are the only ones that would have things like names and credit card info,” he added, referring to the ride-hailing companies.

Under the new rules, which have raised concerns among several privacy groups, for-hire drivers would only be able to transport passengers for 10 hours per day. They are also required to take an eight-hour rest between the shifts.

The move aims to reduce traffic incidents.

However, Uber believes it is a breach of valuable customer data.

“We have an obligation to protect our riders’ data, especially in an age when information collected by government agencies like the TLC can be hacked, shared, misused or otherwise made public,” said company spokeswoman Alix Anfang.

For those unaware of Uber’s own set of customer privacy issues, well, the company is currently facing a lawsuit alleging its employees were able to secretly track the movements of their friends, family and exes as well as politicians and celebrities.

 

 

 

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