Uber has rightfully taken heat for its past privacy overreaches: tracking riders after they get dropped off, tracking Lyft drivers, tracking and circumventing law enforcement, tracking critical journalists. Lots of tracking in situations where people expected not to be tracked!
All that unanticipated tracking made a bunch of people mad at Uber, and Uber has been working to clean up its privacy messes. Uber in August rolled back its decision to require riders to always share their location data with the company (a change that would’ve been forced on the company anyway with the release of iOS 11). And in July, Uber released an open-source differential privacy tool that will help keep users’ personal information away from the prying eyes of Uber employees.
Now Uber is trying to be a bit more transparent about how it uses rider and driver data. The company used to have several privacy policies—one for riders, one for US drivers, and another for drivers outside the US—but starting today, Uber is combining them all into one new policy that’s designed to be straightforward.
Uber users around the world will start getting notifications about the policy in the next few weeks, with the policy officially taking effect on 1 November.
There aren’t major changes to how Uber is handling the personal information of its riders and drivers, but the policy does acknowledge some of the situations that have gotten Uber into hot water before and tries to clear up how that data is used. For example, Uber now notes that it retains device information even after an account is deleted if it suspects the device was used by someone involved in fraud or dangerous activity. Uber also points out that it can still keep tabs on riders who opt out of always sharing their location data by tracking their drivers, who are required to give Uber access to their location even when the app is running in the background.