Report: Feds Investigating Uber Over Privacy Violations

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown

Uber’s awful week month year may have just gotten a bit worse, as sources report the ride-hailing company is now in the crosshairs of federal regulators.

Recode, citing several sources familiar with the matter, reports that the Federal Trade Commission has opened an inquiry into Uber’s privacy practices, including its handling of customer data.

While the sources cautioned that the agency often questions companies on their consumer protection measures, the inquiry could turn into a complaint against the company.

Although the sources didn’t specify what the FTC staff was looking into; Uber’s handling of customer data and its tracking of users has come under scrutiny.

In April, reports surfaced that Uber tracked iPhones even after the app was deleted.

In June 2015, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the FTC urging the agency to investigate a new privacy policy from the company. The group wanted the FTC to look into a portion of the complaint that allowed it to use a rider’s location information to track where they are even when the app is running in the background.

That concern came back to the forefront late last year when the company changed its location settings requiring users to allow the app to continue following them for five minutes after a ride ends.

The company has also been accused of using several types of software, including “God view,” “Greyball,” and “Hell” to track users, recruit Lyft drivers, and otherwise keep an eye on everyone who uses their apps.

Despite all of this, Uber has maintained that it wasn’t going to sell user information.

If the FTC goes forward with a complaint against Uber, it wouldn’t be the first time. The ride-hailing service agreed in January to pay $20 million to close the book on federal charges that it used misleading and exaggerated earnings figures to attract new drivers.

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