Watch what you do, the people at Uber may be watching you.
Perhaps the Uber ride-sharing app should be called the Uber spying app. Some of Uber’s employees have been accused of using the app’s location-based technology to find and track the locations of people, including famous celebrities, politicians and exes.
Accusations that Uber employees have been using the company’s technology to spy on people surfaced in court testimony given by a former employee.
According to former Uber employee, Samuel Ward Spangenberg, these personal data problems have been going on at Uber for awhile.
Spangenberg was a forensic investigator who used to work for Uber. He claims that he was fired by the company shortly after bringing these privacy problems to the attention of Uber executives.
Mr. Spangenberg is currently involved in a lawsuit against Uber over his termination. He claims that his termination from Uber involved age discrimination and retaliation for his whistleblowing. The privacy revelations against Uber came from sworn testimony that he has given during the course of his lawsuit against the company.
Spangenberg’s testimony goes on to say that Uber employees routinely used the company’s “God View” location tracking to find and follow the locations of people, including famous politicians and celebrities, personal contacts, ex-spouses and ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. Spangenberg specifically claims that Beyonce’s Uber location was spied on by people at the company.
It has been previously reported that Uber has a “God View” tool that can be used by employees to track people who use the Uber app. In 2014, one of Uber’s managers reportedly mentioned that the tool was used to spy on the location of a news reporter in New York. The so-called “God View” location tracking tool has supposedly been renamed “Heaven View” by the company, but its potential for spying and abuse appear to remain the same.
Of course, a lot of apps and other technologies use location-based services to find and track people today. If true, however, these accusations against Uber would seriously damage the trust that people put in these services, calling into question when and how their personal location information is used by tech companies and the people who work for them.
Uber has admitted that several employees have been fired for misusing the company’s location tracking tool. The company claims that they have beefed up data security to stop employees from misusing customer information and stop them from spying on celebrities.
However, a few weeks ago it was reported that Uber has increased the amount of location data they collect on people. Apparently, Uber continues to record location information on people for as long as five minutes after they have been dropped off at their chosen destination.
And, as everyone knows, more personal data means more potential for people to abuse it.