Why Uber’s long PR nightmare will end in a user privacy win
Competing car-hailing companies are falling all over themselves to win your trust.
By Caitlin McGarry
After the comments from Uber Senior Vice President Emil Michael were revealed on Monday, a BuzzFeed reporter said
Uber accessed her user data without her consent while she was reporting a story. Well-known venture capitalist
Change is coming
“The trip history of our riders is important information and we understand that we must treat it carefully and with respect, protecting it from unauthorized access,” the company said in a
Thursday blog post.
But respect wasn’t really high-priority for Uber until the company got caught. Drivers were able to access God View as recently as nine months ago,according to
higher-ups in local offices are usingtheir power to peer into journalists’ trip history. At best, the company has been totally careless when it comes to privacy. The company is
investigating the New York exec, but may soon find itself under investigation.
Sen. Al Franken
wrote a scathing letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick this week with a list of questions about user privacy:
Franken demanded responses to his questions by Dec. 15.
All of this scrutiny is making Uber look terrible, but it’s good for the app’s customers, most of whom didn’t realize the company could trot out their exact location in an Uber car on a map as a party trick.
Flywheel and Gett are pointing to their partnerships with regulated taxi companies as proof of how different they are from Uber.
Will the current scandal force Uber out of business? No. It’s unlikely that anyone at the company will even be fired (or resign) over this week’s dust-up. But Uber is under intense pressure to change its ways, and the current crop of startups who ask for your data and do little to protect it will have to follow suit or risk being compared to the worst offender.