Today, Uber announced a new Privacy Settings system within the app, rolling out to users over the next few weeks. The new controls will give users more control over mobile notifications sent by Uber and any contacts shared with the system. The new settings also let users grant or withhold location data from within the app, a choice previously made at the operating system level.
The biggest functional change is the system for deleting accounts, which users will now be able to do from within the app itself. Simply uninstalling the Uber app doesn’t delete server data, and deleting that data previously required directly contacting Uber’s support team. The new process lets users start an automatic 30-day countdown from the Privacy Settings page, after which all customer data will be deleted, including data from the UberEats app.
“We would often get a lot of questions about what’s deleted from our servers,” says product manager Zach Singleton. “Internally, this lets us manage it better in terms of scale.”
The feature comes after the #DeleteUber campaign earlier this year, which reportedly caused more than 200,000 users to delete their accounts in response to CEO Travis Kalanick’s perceived collaboration with President Trump. That campaign was followed by new harassment and anti-regulatory scandals, leading some to call for a shift in leadership within the company.
Uber insists today’s changes aren’t a response to those campaigns. A spokesperson said today’s release has been scheduled for several months, and the changes have been in the works for even longer. “We’ve been working on improving this [account deletion] experience for more than a year,” said an Uber spokesperson.
The new settings also make it easier for users to control their location data, although that control is still limited. The new settings include a toggle for sharing your location with friends, and a new option to decline location-sharing from within the app. However, location-sharing is still mostly an all-or-nothing choice, and users that decide not to share will have to manually input their location when they hail a ride, significantly limiting the functionality of the app.
In November, Uber began tracking users for five minutes after the end of the ride, even when the app is operating in the background, a move that raised privacy concerns with some users.