Bengaluru: The new Uber app is a bit creepy. It allows the user to be tracked for five minutes after de-boarding the cab. This is serious violation of privacy. A key aspect of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended) and Privacy (Protection) Bill, 2013, in India requires that any organization that processes personal information must obtain a written consent from the data subjects before undertaking certain activities, though the enforcement of the rule is still uncertain.
The area of defining of ‘tracking’ of consumers is still quite grey and there is no provision to prevent Uber from tracking unsuspecting consumers. Besides, Uber does not have a dedicated number which Indian consumers can call to register their complaints. It though has an e-mail address which consumers can connect to.
When asked, regular Uber user and software professional Ajay Ramakrishnan said, “I use Uber quite frequently. I did not know they tracked you for five minutes after de-boarding the cab. I will surely think twice about using or suggesting Uber service to anyone.”
The company’s official line is that tracking helps improve security. But twitter users aren’t happy. Uber user Nishant Totla had this to say, “Now provide location to Uber all the time, or not at all. Quite arrogant, will not use Uber till they fix this.”
The app however has the option of turning off tracking manually. But this does not make sense if the app user does not have the knowledge to turn off ‘tracking’. Undergraduate
student Shrishti Kamath said, “I just switch on the app and book a cab. I did not know that Uber tracked you even after leaving the cab. I certainly don’t want any stranger to know my location. Besides I do not know how to turn off ‘tracking’.”
‘It is for users’ safety’
An Uber spokesperson said, “Uber is a location based service. Until this change, we only collected a riders' location when the app was in the foreground - i.e. when it was actually open on their home screen. This created challenges with pick-ups, where having the riders' exact location is very important, and drop offs, where knowing building entrances can create safer drop-off experiences. Collecting this data from when the rider requests a trip until five minutes after the trip has finished, will help with ETAs, pick-ups, efficiency on pool and passenger safety. If riders do not want this data collected they can opt out and still use our service."