If you’re concerned about companies becoming ever more intrusive, then you may want to check your device settings after downloading the latest Uber app. As promised in its user privacy statement last year, the ride-hailing firm’s new Location Information feature can track users before a ride starts and after it ends.
The updated app will allow Uber to track a customer’s location as soon as they order a ride. Once they’ve been dropped off, it will continue to monitor their whereabouts for five minutes. The company says this will enable drivers to locate passengers without having to call them, and the post-ride surveillance will help Uber analyze elements of the service, making sure passengers are dropped off on the right side of the street, for example.
“We’re always thinking about ways we can improve the rider experience from sharpening our ETA estimates to identifying the best pick up location on any given street. Location is at the heart of the Uber experience, and we’re asking riders to provide us with more information to achieve these goals,” Uber said in a statement.
As noted by Ars Technica, following Uber’s announcement last year that it would collect the precise location of a device when the app is running in the foreground or background, the Federal Trade Commission registered a complaint against the firm in response to the news.
It's worth noting that the app does request permission via a popup before it starts tracking users. If you agree but later change your mind, Uber says it can be turned off by disabling location services through your device settings.
For those worried about this sensitive data falling into the wrong hands: Uber made an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman earlier this year to encrypt it and protect the information with multi-factor authentication.