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

Uber Violated Privacy Policy, FTC Says

The FTC also took issue with Uber's claims about its security practices, years after a major data breach allowed hackers to abscond with information about the company's drivers. But in fact, Uber enforced that policy for only about eight months, said Ben Rossen, FTC staff attorney.

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. In its complaint, the commission said that Uber stopped using its automated system of monitoring employee access to information less than a year after it was announced and that when it was in place, the company rarely monitored it.

Following the breach, Uber hired its first chief security officer and the company says it now employs "hundreds of trained professionals dedicated to protecting user information". The FTC believed that Uber did not sufficiently observe when and how employees accessed data for both its drivers and its riders.

Under the agreement with the FTC, Uber is required to implement a "comprehensive privacy program" that protects the confidentiality of personal information it collects.

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.

"Companies must honor their promises about how they're going to protect consumer information", FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen told reports in a conference call Tuesday.

Uber settles claims that it mishandled private information about users and drivers
The settlement will force Uber to "take privacy into account every day", said Maureen Ohlhausen, the FTC's acting chairwoman. Uber implemented a new system to monitor employee access to user data in December 2014, according to the FTC.

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Uber accepted the order as part of the settlement, but neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the complaint.

"We are pleased to bring the FTC's investigation to a close".

The settlement reflects Uber's latest attempt to move past a series of crises, including an internal probe of sexual harassment allegations, the departure of CEO Travis Kalanick and other top executives and a high-stakes lawsuit over its autonomous auto designs.

Uber's "God View" software, which some employees reportedly had used to track the real-time locations of passengers including politicians, celebrities like Beyonce, and even ex-girlfriends, was a key FTC concern. "It will make them take privacy into account everyday". The company recently rolled out an internal differential privacy tool that will let its engineers work with customer data without accessing sensitive personal information.

The FTC also said Uber failed to implement basic security practices, such as two-factor authentication, that could have kept Uber's driver data from leaking.

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