Uber gives law enforcement agencies, regulators access to data on 12 million users; raises privacy concerns
Apr 13, 2016 02:25 AM EDT
A transparency report released by Uber Technologies Inc on Tuesday indicates that the company provided information of its riders and drivers to various U.S. law enforcement agencies and regulators.
Uber's transparency report shows that between July and December 2015, the company provided information on 12 million riders and drivers to U.S. regulators. Information on 469 users was given to state and federal law enforcement agencies.
According to Reuters, the agencies requested details on the trips, trips requests, pickup and dropoff areas, as well as fare rates, vehicles used and information on the drivers.
415 of the request for information came from law enforcement agencies. Uber was able to provide data in nearly 85 percent of the requests.
As to the reason for such information requests, it was said that law enforcement agencies gathered the data for fraud investigations or use of stolen credit cards.
On the other hand, regulators used the data to monitor the volume of rides taken through Uber and the frequency of driver's reliance on Uber, The Guardian reported.
The release of data, which include GPS coordinates, addresses and route maps, has raised privacy concerns from customers.
The issue has gone beyond the information extracted from Uber. According to Mercury News, other companies such as Google and Facebook issue similar transparency reports at the request of law enforcement agencies to aid criminal investigations.
But the real concern arises from requests made by regulators, such as the California Public Utilities Commission, who can make such demands without a warrant or subpoena. Non-compliance with requests from regulators may even lead to the company's closure.
"Of course regulators will always need some amount of data to be effective, just like law enforcement," Uber stated. "But in many cases they send blanket requests without explaining why the information is needed, or how it will be used."
The issue on data privacy has been quite an issue following the FBI's insistence to have Apple give backdoor access to an iPhone used by one of the attackers in the San Bernardino shooting last year. Uber, however, said that it has not received any request for information pertaining to national security matters.