Uber has decided to ditch the highly criticized tracking feature from its app after customer privacy concerns were raised about it. The feature made it possible for the car transportation and tech company track its drivers for as long as 5 minutes from the end of a trip.
Users have been given the earlier ability to only share their location data from the app. This change will be rolled out to iPhones in the course of this week. The move is one of the company’s most recent attempts to recover from numerous crises including the resignation of its CEO Travis Kalanick and several other top managers.
The company’s co-founder will be replaced by Expedia Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi.
“The decision to pull down the location tracking feature has nothing to do with a change in executive changes,” says Uber’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan. The company’s security team has been up all round the clock to ensure customer privacy is maintained. Sullivan joined Uber in 2015.
He said that they have been going through one hurdle after another because that is their mandate.
The app was updated last November to include a feature that allowed users to either set the always collect data on or set it off. This way, they limited the data gathering process to only when it is being used.
Uber will now be requiring permission from users so that it can track riders for five minutes once a trip is finalized. This way, the company says, will help safeguard customer privacy. The never to track option made it necessary for riders to manually input the pick-up and drop-off addresses.
These changes were heavily criticized at a time when the company was still contending against breach of user trust accusations and poor handling and use of customer data. But Uber has remained adamant that it had not started the actual tracking in iPhone users and had suspended it for the Android smartphones.
Sullivan admitted that the company had gone wrong when it requested for more information without explaining how the users would benefit. “If in the future Uber decides it’s valuable to track up to five minutes after the trip, it will give the reasons for doing so and give users the ability to either accept or refuse,” he added.
Uber is keen at guaranteeing privacy and restore its reputation for it didn’t “have expertise” to do so.
The change is happening barely two weeks after Uber was taken to a United States Federal court for having failed to safeguard drivers and passengers personal information. The firm was forced to settle the case in which it didn’t stop its employees from snooping. Among other agreements are that Uber shall hold internal audits every 2 years in the next 20 years. The intention is to ensure compliance with the FTC rules and regulations.