Uber Faces Negative Reactions After Update Introduces Background GPS Tracking

by

A recent update to ride-hailing app Uber is generating a negative reaction online, with customers concerned over the company's decision to track their location "from the time of trip request through five minutes after the trip ends," no matter if the app is open or not. The only option now available for users to negate the background tracking of their location is to go into iOS Settings > Privacy > Location Services and opt-in to "Never" allow Uber location access through the iPhone.

With no middle ground option of only tracking when the app is open, privacy advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation speaking with BuzzFeed News are now asking Uber to reintroduce such an option in the ride-hailing app. Uber said that tracking users five minutes after they leave their ride provides data that could improve the app's services, including whether or not customers are dropped off on the opposite side of the street of their destination, making them walk through traffic in the minutes after a ride.

uber-big-brother

Deputy executive director and general counsel at EFF, Kurt Opsahl, said that some people will "have very legitimate reasons" why they would want to opt out of such tracking services. He also noted that Uber's solution -- turning Location Services off -- harms the usability of the app, which uses GPS to automatically send a user's location to a driver for pick-up. If users want to stay secure and turn off tracking, they have to input their location manually.

“Tracking you five minutes after you have been dropped off — some people might have very legitimate reasons why they don’t want a record about that,” Opsahl said. “They may be concerned about getting into some database about their location and may get dropped off across the street. It’s sad to take that away.”

Opsahl noted that the conversations with Uber are ongoing, but he and the EFF remain hopeful that the app will return to an option where user location will only be tracked when the app is open. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, is also watching the events surrounding the update, and sees it as a potentially scary first step to even more invasive location gathering updates.

“If Uber wants to make a case to its customers that they stand to benefit from additional uses of data, it should make that case and let customers opt in,” [Stanley] said. “The five-minute thing is disturbing. Obviously that’s not 24/7 tracking, but they are reserving themselves the ability to do that, which is even scarier.”

For Uber, a company spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News that one of the biggest advantages of the five minute tracking update is that it "could also help customer service representatives investigate complaints or safety issues" raised by users following a ride. For now, the company has not indicated that it will roll back the update.

Tag: Uber

Top Rated Comments

autrefois Avatar
54 months ago

If you don't like it, don't use Uber. Simple enough.

I've never understood this reaction. If someone uses an app, and the app changes, why can't people say they're unhappy? Sometimes companies actually listen to user suggestions and complaints and actually make things better.

It's the same "Love it or leave it pal" mentality that some people have about their country. If you don't like things the way they are, shut up or go somewhere else.

Maybe you can find fault with something but still love it and want it to improve?
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iansilv Avatar
54 months ago
So why can't Apple make it a requirement that any app that uses location have the three options of off always, on always and on only when using the app? Bam. Problem solved.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamjackson Avatar
54 months ago
I'm glad people are upset about this. Keep these guys in check. You want to know where I am? Say why and give me a damn good reason.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MysteriousStain Avatar
54 months ago
I love it when uber agents/employees jump into the discussion to tell paying customers why they are a bunch of crybabies.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mquinn Avatar
54 months ago
As an uber driver, I appreciate a way to prove that I 1) left the rider in the right spot and 2) can't be held liable for anything that happened after I leave as Uber knows where I am as well with the Driver app.

And if you use any Google service on your iPhone, a lot worse tracking is probably happening than this. Not to mention Apple's own Location-Based alerts and ads setting.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LordQ Avatar
54 months ago
And no one noticed because every update just says "we are always trying to improve our app". This should be an option!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

cook cbs this morning

CBS This Morning: Apple to Make 'Big Announcement' Tomorrow Morning

Tuesday January 12, 2021 8:46 am PST by
CBS This Morning today shared a short clip of an upcoming interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook in which addressing last week's events at the U.S. Capitol, with Cook saying "it's key that people be held accountable for it." Following the clip, Gayle King of CBS noted that the interview with Cook was not specifically arranged to address the current controversy over Parler and other repercussions, ...
ipad pro 2021 mysmartprice cad

Allegedly Leaked 2021 iPad Pro CAD Images Suggest Few Design Changes

Tuesday January 12, 2021 3:38 am PST by
Tech blogs 91mobile and MySmartPrice on Tuesday posted a series of allegedly leaked factory CAD images of Apple's upcoming fifth-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Rumors suggest Apple plans to announce two new iPad Pro models in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions, and today's images offer perhaps the clearest indication yet that Apple's next-generation iPad Pros will have minimal, if any,...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
find my app safari post

Safari Allows Users to Enable Hidden 'Items' Tab in 'Find My' App Ahead of AirTags Launch

Wednesday January 13, 2021 5:45 am PST by
As seen in screenshots obtained by MacRumors in 2019, Apple's long-rumored AirTags items trackers are expected to be managed through the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Now, any user can get an early look at this tab. MacRumors reader David Chu today alerted us that the hidden "Items" tab in the Find My app can be enabled on an iPhone or iPad by typing in the link findmy://items in...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
mac anti reflective coating issue

Apple's Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program Still in Effect for Some MacBooks With New Mail-In Policy

Tuesday January 12, 2021 10:07 am PST by
In an internal memo obtained by MacRumors, Apple recently informed its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers that mail-in repair is now required for Mac notebooks with anti-reflective coating issues in the United States. The new policy went into effect January 4, 2021 and means that customers who take an eligible 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro exhibiting this issue to an Apple...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
whatsapp wallpapers 1

WhatsApp Affirms User Privacy Following Backlash Over Data Sharing With Facebook

Tuesday January 12, 2021 6:39 am PST by
Following backlash after changing its terms and privacy policy to consolidate a significant amount of data sharing with Facebook, WhatsApp is now assuring users about the privacy measures built into its app. Last week, WhatsApp began informing users of updates to the app's terms of service and privacy policy. The updated agreements, which users must consent to in order to continue using...
apple racial equity justice initiative propel center render 01132021

Apple Launches New Nationwide Racial Equity and Justice Initiative Projects

Wednesday January 13, 2021 4:08 am PST by
Apple today announced a set of new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. Rendering of the Propel Center The projects include the Propel Center, a global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an Apple ...