Ride-hailing company Uber updated its service to track passenger’s locations, even after the customers get off the Uber car and close the app.
The upgraded app collects passenger data up to five minutes after the journey ends. The company says it will improve pickups, drop offs, safety, and customer service.
Previously, Uber could only track passenger’s locations when the app was open. Now it will request privileges to access the GPS when the app is in the background. However, customers may choose to deny the new option right after the app updates.
Users must consent to the new service
After the app updates, a popup will ask to change passenger tracking settings and showing the options “Always” and “Never.” Uber says that riders can disable the location service in the settings menu whenever they want.
However, choosing “Never” means they will have to enter their pick-up data manually each time, so it practically erases the advantages of the service. There is no option to disable the 5-minute tracking after the app closes.
According to Uber, the move will help drivers locate the riders without having to call them, and it will also enable the company to analyze if their employees are picking up and dropping off their customers correctly.
The new tracking app rises privacy concerns
Uber announced the change in July 2015 and prompted a Federal Trade Commission complaint. The institution is concerned about how Uber claims to have the right to collect personal information and specific location of American customers, even after the service ends.
The FTC added the update ignored previous decisions of the federal organization, as it threatens privacy rights and personal service of the clients.
Back in 2015, The Electronic Privacy Information Center said: “This collection of user’s information far exceeds what customers expect from the transportation system.”
They explain the clients do not expect the company to collect information about them after they close the app.
The New York Attorney General’s office and Uber reached an agreement in January to encrypt user’s location data and protect it with multi-factor authentication.
Notably, Uber has faced legal issues regarding the data of their passengers in the past, and the company had to pay $20,000 to a U.S. court. The firm paid the fine after a probe in its “God View” tool enable drivers to track their passengers in real time.