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Privacy Android IOS Software Technology

Uber Says It'll Stop Tracking Riders After They're Dropped Off (usatoday.com) 69

Uber is revamping privacy settings that it rolled out last fall to allow iOS users the ability to deny Uber the right to track your whereabouts. Similar tweaks are reportedly coming to the Android version of the app. USA Today reports: The new options for Uber app users are: Always (Uber is allowed to collect rider location information from the moment the app is opened until the trip ends), While Using The App (information flows to Uber while the app is visible on the screen) and Never (no info is transmitted but riders have to manually input their pick-up and drop-off locations). One of the old privacy features that gave many users pause was Uber's ability to track the whereabouts of riders up to 5 minutes after a ride was completed. Uber says the 5-minute feature was never activated on the iOS version of its app, and that it was disabled a few months after being initiated on the Android version. The company maintained that the feature was to enhance safety, but for many the option was too reminiscent of some of Uber's more notorious Big Brother tactics.

In 2016, Uber settled an investigation brought by New York's attorney general by agreeing to encrypt rider geo-location. The inquiry was sparked by reports that Uber executives had access to riders' locations, and that Uber displayed rider information in an aerial view known internally as "God View." Earlier this year, federal regulators began investigating an Uber practice known as "greyballing," which allowed engineers to take over an app and create a screen showing cars that did not really exist. The practice was used to steer regulators investigating Uber away from drivers, and was halted by Uber after being reported by The New York Times.

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Uber Says It'll Stop Tracking Riders After They're Dropped Off

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  • Honto ni? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @03:12AM (#55114937) Journal

    Pinkie-promise?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      with all the sincerity of a grinning politician (or banking or insurance or big pharma executive).

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @03:16AM (#55114951)

    Thank you Uber, you're so kind! e_e

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @03:23AM (#55114965)

    I'm not really interested in what Über says, since they lie like rugs. I'm interested in what they actually do. And, for every Evil that they said they did back in the past, but will never, ever do again . . . they are doing ten more Evils, that we just don't know about today.

    "Hey, Über just sold my kidneys on eBay! Isn't that illegal?!?!"

    "Well, the issue has not been addressed yet by lawmakers, but when it is addressed, Über will promise not to sell your kidneys again."

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      I'm interested in what they actually do.

      I would like the phone to provide control over what apps do.
      If could say "Install app but don't give it GPS access" (or explicitly request permission), then I would know their app is not doing anything bad.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        I'm interested in what they actually do.

        I would like the phone to provide control over what apps do.
        If could say "Install app but don't give it GPS access" (or explicitly request permission), then I would know their app is not doing anything bad.

        I believe the latest versions of both Android and IOS provide this function (I have savings instead of an Iphone, but my Nexus 5x has allowed this since Android version 6/Marshmallow). However the restrictions are easy to get around by the app saying "this application cannot work unless you grant Uber Spy permissions, press here to somnambulantly do this now".

        The OS is secure, it's the user that is the primary source of insecurity.

        • What's this got to do with sleep walking.

        • We need the ability for the OS to LIE to apps. I should be able to feed Uber bullshit data if i so choose.(and obviously deal with the fallout if i abuse it)
        • The problem with the existing permissions functionality is that they are still too course-grained, and they cannot be easily applied on a per-use basis.

          However the restrictions are easy to get around by the app saying "this application cannot work unless you grant Uber Spy permissions, press here to somnambulantly do this now".

          This doesn't actually bother me much. If an app refuses to work under the restrictions I want, then I just don't use it. It gave me fair warning, after all, and I have yet to find an

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The problem is that the app has desirable uses cases for the GPS (telling the drivers where you as so they can pick you up), but granting permission to use the GPS means they can also tack on potentially undesirable uses (tracking you in the background when you do not have an open request for a ride).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the problem with uber and every other online service is you DON'T KNOW what they're doing... the safest best is to just assume they're ALL abusing your privacy and exploiting every bit of data they get their grubby mitts on.

  • I feel this is a new wave of changes coming up with new CEO. Looking forward to changes in Uber.
    • We'll see. From where I sit, it looks like the company is rotten throughout. I'm deeply skeptical as to whether or not they can ever be any different without -- at a minimum -- a wholesale change in management, including the board.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@worf.nCOUGARet minus cat> on Thursday August 31, 2017 @05:24AM (#55115235)

    People wonder why Apple is so hard up on developers, forcing them to run through hoops to get apps up. It's because developers always seem to, given an inch, take a mile.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Uber was the #1 cause for Apple to implement a "Location services while app is open" option in the OS (before it was location services whenever requested). By default, when you close an app, the app stops getting location information at all. (You can always override this for GPS apps so they can run in the background)

    In other words, by default, once you close the Uber app, the app stops getting location information. Doesn't matter that the app wanted to track users indefinitely, or for 5 minutes afterwards - once you close it, it's gone.

    Uber is just spinning it because Apple slapped them down for misuse.

    • It's because developers always seem to, given an inch, take a mile.

      Those decisions are typically above their pay grade. Some don't even know they're giving this kind of sensitive data up when they use an API that does it surreptitiously. This needs to be defined as criminal activity, simple.

      • I assume that by "developer", he meant "software company" rather than the people actually writing the code, specifically.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      My iPhone has an option for "when using app" under Location Services

  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @05:26AM (#55115237)
    Uber was tracking you when you weren't riding / hailing one of their cars. Then they got found out.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Uber was tracking you when you weren't riding / hailing one of their cars. Then they got found out.

      And now they promise to do it in a way that is more difficult to find out.

      Glad I've never installed it.

  • Legislation, Legislation, Legislation. Yes let's worry about shit that happened 170 years ago instead of current issues where a company decides capriciously that where you are, what you do and who you communicate with belongs to them. Way to go Congress!

  • I just used Uber twice over the weekend and both times it failed to detect that we had arrived and the trip had ended for over an hour

    • The ride ends when the driver swipes the end button. And until he does so, they won't get another job. It's nothing to do with your GPS position.

      If it happened twice to you over the weekend, it looks like a bug. I'd check your statement. But it's more likely to be a client error than anything to do with the actual trip, I'd have thought.

  • by LostMonk ( 1839248 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @08:04AM (#55115617)

    This kind of surveillance is why I only enable location services when I need them. It's good for battery time too.

  • Street intersect drop off points, we stop tracking you after the ride.
    What next?

    We will stop using your camera.
    We will stop mining with your phone, we had no profit, we did it just for fun.
    We will stop using your microphone
    *Uber got sued over privacy*
    *Uber won*
    Uber: We have had top notch privacy since the beginning
    Uber now calls a limo, when it detects a wish for it
    *You now end up with a limo outside your door, every time you walk outside*

    If they said they will stop, it means they did i

  • Anyone who would willingly pay for and use a treacherous device, a locked-down computer that you cannot control, and run programs (applications) that you have no idea what they are actually doing, is signing up for this kind of abuse. Any owner of a so-called "smart" so-called "telephone" is a patsy, a willing mark, a tourist to Las Vegas, oblivious to how they are being robbed of everything valuable in their life. Stick to free software.
    • Agreed. It's a good thing that locked-down spy devices aren't your only smartphone options.

      • Really? There is? Did I miss Richard Stallman endorsing some model of so-called "smart" so-called "telephone" ? Please enlighten.
        • It's no secret. You get a phone that you can unlock the bootloader on and install your own OS with strong security measures.

          Yes, the binary blobs are still a security hole, but it's the same security hole you have with feature phones, so if that's more risk than you're willing to tolerate then you shouldn't carry any cell phone at all.

  • by dohzer ( 867770 )

    Yeah, they probably do say that.

  • With the release of iOS 11 in Sept, all apps will have the option to allow location services only while the app is open. This would have stopped Uber from tracking people once they closed the app. Nice move by Uber to get the publicity for doing something they'd be prevented from doing soon anyways, though not sure it was worth reminding people that they currently track you after you reach your destination.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@NOsPaM.nerdflat.com> on Thursday August 31, 2017 @09:56AM (#55116093) Journal

    What was Uber thinking that this sort of thing should even be remotely possible for them just by knowing someone's GPS location? I can only just barely imagine how it might be possible for someone who happens to personally *know* the person to get an idea on the status of someone's safety simply by knowing their whereabouts, but this would require extremely detailed knowledge of that person's agenda, not to mention knowing that person so incredibly well that they could draw a conclusion about about the status of someone they knew simply from their location data, but how was Uber claiming it was going to help *THEM* accomplish that, exactly?

    Hey, I'm fully aware that Uber may just have been bullshitting the entire time, but I can't seriously see how anybody else would not have been able to tell, and called them on it right away.

  • by intnsred ( 199771 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @10:28AM (#55116285)

    So let me get this straight: Am I supposed to be happy or relieved about this?!

    Uber Inc. is still a nasty corporation that screws its drives and also its customers. I know I'll never give them a dime of my money.

    Is it wrong for me to hope that this corporation goes belly-up and that all of its rich shareholders lose a lot of money because they're stomping on the privacy of their customers like an elephant steps on ants?

    • Is it wrong for me to hope that this corporation goes belly-up and that all of its rich shareholders lose a lot of money because they're stomping on the privacy of their customers like an elephant steps on ants?

      If so, then we can be wrong together.

  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @11:05AM (#55116461)

    Uber has demonstrated forcefully and repeatedly that they can't be trusted. There's no reason to think something is true just because they said it is.

  • "Uber displayed rider information in an aerial view known internally as "God View."

    They should have called it what it is! Voyeuristic, creepy stalker and skank view!

  • I've suspected that the reason Uber did this was to try and identify those drivers who make it to the "destination" only to then drive for a further 10 minutes (with the passenger inside) to the real destination for an additional cash payment.

    It's all academic anyway, since the "feature" Uber relied on in iOS 10 to enable them to force this option on their users is being removed by Apple in iOS 11. Even if they wanted to continue doing this, iOS 11 won't allow them to prevent users from selecting "track onl

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