FTC: Uber 'failed consumers' and faces 20 years of privacy audits

Lacking in privacy
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16 August, 2017

"This case shows that, even if you're a fast-growing company, you can't leave consumers behind: You must honor your privacy and security promises", she said. But the system was active for less than a year, and for nine months after it was discontinued, employees once again had unfettered access to data. The FTC said in its complaint that Uber collected the "name, email address, phone number, postal address, profile picture, Social Security number, driver's license information, bank account information (including domestic routing and bank account numbers), vehicle registration information, and insurance information" of its drivers.

Faced with widespread bad publicity, Uber issued a privacy policy stating that employees were prohibited from accessing riders' or drivers' data, except for specific business purposes, like facilitating payments and fraud monitoring.

In 2014, Uber executives had a devious little hobby: spying on everyone from Beyoncé to their ex-girlfriends.

On Tuesday, the FTC announced that Uber had agreed to settle the agency's long-standing complaint that it had widely failed to preserve its customers privacy.

Under the terms of the settlement, Uber is also barred from misrepresenting how it protects consumers' personal information, and is required to put in place a "comprehensive privacy program".

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Uber Technologies Inc has agreed to two decades of audits after USA regulators found the ride-services company failed to protect the personal information of drivers and passengers and deceived the public about efforts to prevent snooping by its employees.

The FTC started its Uber probe following media reports in late 2014 that revealed a program dubbed "God View", which allowed company employees to monitor the real-time locations of customers who had requested a ride through the app.

In a statement, FTC acting chairman Maureen K. Olhausen said that Uber had failed its customers in two ways. "We've significantly strengthened our privacy and data security practices since then and will continue to invest heavily in these programs", an Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo.

The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which doesn't require Uber to pay a monetary penalty, resolves claims the company misrepresented that consumer information was secure.

Uber discovered the breach in September 2014, but according to the complaint, until March 2015 it was storing "sensitive personal information in the Amazon S3 Datastore in clear, readable text, including in database back-ups and database prune files, rather than encrypting the information". The company has agreed to the settlement, including a requirement to undergo a third-party audit every two years for the next 20 years, ensuring it is following the new measures.


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