Uber settles claims that it mishandled private information about users and drivers

Uber settles federal probe over 'God view,' other alleged privacy violations

US regulators said on Tuesday that Uber Technologies Inc agreed to do more to protect the privacy of customer and driver data in settling allegations that the ride-hailing company had made deceptive privacy and data security claims.

The FTC said Uber failed to stop employees from inappropriately accessing user data, and that the company failed to provide "reasonable security" for the data it stored on Amazon Web Services. Uber initially believed the hack affected just under 50,000 drivers, but discovered in May and June 2016 that a further 60,000 drivers' details were exposed in the breach, according to the FTC's complaint.

Uber also has to implement a "comprehensive privacy program" that addresses future risks with new software it implements - so if Uber implements something like a "predictive ride feature", picking people up in locations that they're frequently hailing a auto from (this is a hypothetical); it has to evaluate how that's going to affect customer data privacy and be transparent about it.

Uber implemented a new system to monitor employee access to user data in December 2014, according to the FTC.

Uber's agreement with the FTC includes the company basically admitting that it wasn't keeping tabs on employee and customer data - and who did or did not have access to it - as closely as they said they were.

Uber has reached a deal with the Federal Trade Commission to be subject to regular privacy audits, settling a complaint (PDF) in which the FTC accused Uber of violating its own privacy policy. "This case shows that, even if you're a fast growing company, you can't leave consumers behind: you must honour your privacy and security promises". But Uber stopped the monitoring less than a year later.

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As part of this recent settlement, Uber "neither admits nor denies" any wrongdoing, but has agreed to implement the changes ordered by the FTC.

The settlement will force Uber to "take privacy into account every day", said Maureen Ohlhausen, the FTC's acting chairwoman.

The lapses at Uber date back to 2014, including the so-called "God View" mishap and the later theft of its drivers' data by hackers.

The FTC claims stem from an incident in 2014, when Uber revealed it was investigating an executive for allegedly tracking the travel records of a journalist without her permission.

"Our order requires a culture of privacy sensitivity for Uber", Ohlhausen said on a call with reporters. The company recently rolled out an internal differential privacy tool that will let its engineers work with customer data without accessing sensitive personal information.

"We've significantly strengthened our privacy and data security practices since [2014], and will continue to invest heavily in these programs", an Uber spokesperson told Ars via e-mail.

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