Uber Tracks You Even After Your Ride: Invasion Of Privacy Or Necessary?

Obviously Uber needs your location to send a car to pick you up, and obviously the service tracks your location during the ride to make sure you get where you’re going. But why does Uber now continue to follow you for five minutes after your ride ends?

A number of concerned users are unhappy about this latest update, arguing that it goes too far, while Uber counters that this tracking is a necessity.

For those who may not have opened Uber in the last week, here’s a bit of background: The ride-sharing company updated the way it tracks users. To do this, the company asked customers to allow it to “access your location even when you are not using the app.”


According to the pop-up, clicking “allow” would allow Uber to collect passenger location data from the time the trip is requested through five minutes after the trip ends — including when the app is in the background.

“We do this to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety,” the company says in the pop up, noting that users can turn off location data any time through their device’s settings area.

While it wouldn’t be uncommon for Uber to track a user’s location when they order a ride, the idea that the company would continue to track people afterward quickly became a concern for consumers and privacy advocates.

Kurt Opsahl, deputy counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, tells BuzzFeed News that Uber needs to create a middle ground for users who want to use the app, but not be tracked for longer periods of time.

Currently, if a user doesn’t want to allow the additional tracking when the app is not in use they must simply disable location services. By doing this, users have to manually enter their location to summon a ride.

“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.”

For its part, Uber tells Fortune that the new tracking is only meant to enhance customers’ use of the app.

According to the company’s website, allowing Uber to track users’ location won’t lead the company to record their every move.

A spokesperson for the company tells Fortune that instead of being a every-minute-of-the-day-tracker, the service builds on Uber’s previous tracking ability, which allowed the service to gather location information when the app was open or in the foreground of a user’s phone.

Because customers would usually close the app after requesting a ride, the company says that drivers were often looking at a stagnant location marker, even though riders may have moved. In some cases this led to confusion about where a customer was truly located.

With the new permissions, mixups are less likely, an Uber spokesperson told Fortune. Additionally, the extra tracking after the trip ends is meant to ensure that drop offs are being done at the best spot.

Uber’s New Tracking Tool Is More Convenient Than Creepy [Fortune]
Privacy Advocates Want Uber To Stop Tracking Users After Rides End [BuzzFeed News]

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