in Privacy

Uber’s never-ending tracking of your movements.

When you hail a black cab or book a private hire taxi, you can be reasonably sure that your travel plans are not being tracked. For example, simply by phoning while withholding your caller ID and settling with the driver using cash, your anonymity will be largely maintained.

Uber, in comparison, offers its customers no alternative but to have their movements tracked in great detail, and at every possible opportunity. When you book an Uber, your booking information and payment details are tracked, as is the route of your journey and the exact time and location of its completion. All of this data is associated with your identity and stored for an indefinite period. Furthermore, as Uber is a privately-held US company there is essentially no way to force the company to have any kind of public accountability.

Now, with the latest “upgrade” to their app Uber will now use your phone’s location services to track where you go for up to five minutes after you leave the cab too. If you’re an iOS user, Uber have ensured that the only way to disable this behaviour is to disable location services completely – an action that is highly unlikely to be taken by the vast majority of Uber customers.

Ostensibly this is to “improve pickups, dropoffs, customer service and to enhance safety”, but this is a typically woolly phrase that tells us nothing concrete, and takes almost nothing off the table. Another reason why I have never used, and never plan to use, Uber’s service.

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