Skip to main content

Uber settles claims that it mishandled private information about users and drivers

Uber settles claims that it mishandled private information about users and drivers

/

Under agreement with the FTC, Uber will be subject to third-party audits every two years for 20 years

Share this story

Uber has agreed to implement a “comprehensive privacy program” as part of a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission over a complaint regarding data-handling problems at the embattled ride-hailing company. The program must “address privacy risks related to new and existing products and services for consumers,” as well as “protect the privacy and confidentiality of personal information,” the FTC’s order reads.

The FTC alleged that the San Francisco-based firm failed to closely monitor employees who had access to consumer and driver data, and that it deployed “reasonable measures” to secure personal information it stored on a third-party cloud provider’s servers.

“if you’re a fast growing company, you can’t leave consumers behind.”

“Uber failed consumers in two key ways: First by misrepresenting the extent to which it monitored its employees’ access to personal information about users and drivers, and second by misrepresenting that it took reasonable steps to secure that data,” said FTC acting chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen in a statement. “This case shows that, even if you’re a fast growing company, you can’t leave consumers behind: you must honor your privacy and security promises.”

Under the settlement, Uber is also prohibited from “misrepresenting how it monitors internal access to consumer’s personal information.” This would appear to be a reference to the misuse of the so-called “god view” tool that allowed some employees to spy on the whereabouts of people using the Uber app.

Uber will also be subject to third-party audits of its privacy and data security measures within 180 days “and every two years after that for the next 20 years.”

News of an investigation by the FTC into Uber’s privacy practices first came to light in mid-June, days before Travis Kalanick resigned as CEO of the company. Recode reported that the agency’s investigative staff “appears to have focused its attention on some of the data-handling mishaps that have plagued the company in recent years.” This followed an earlier agreement by Uber to pay $20 million to settle a complaint by the FTC that it misled drivers about earnings and vehicle financing.

As part of this recent settlement, Uber “neither admits nor denies” any wrongdoing, but has agreed to implement the changes ordered by the FTC. “We are pleased to bring the FTC’s investigation to a close,” a spokesperson for Uber said. “The complaint involved practices that date as far back as 2014. We’ve significantly strengthened our privacy and data security practices since then and will continue to invest heavily in these programs. In 2015, we hired our first Chief Security Officer and now employ hundreds of trained professionals dedicated to protecting user information. This settlement provides an opportunity to work with the FTC to further verify that our programs protect user privacy and personal information.”

Of course, this is only the latest headache for Uber amid a series of scandals and reports of board chaos and investor in-fighting. And “god view” wasn’t the only time Uber courted controversy with its approach to private information. Last June, a top Uber executive obtained the medical records of a woman who, in 2014, had been raped by an Uber driver in India. The records were shared with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and senior vice president Emil Michael, and others, both of whom have since been ousted from the company.

Uber is also being sued by a former employee who claims he was fired after blowing the whistle about insecure data practices at the company.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.