Uber Driving Into Troubled Waters? - Glass House Relations
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24

Apr

Uber Driving Into Troubled Waters?

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Whether or not you’ve personally used a “rideshare” app such as Uber or Lyft, by now you’ve heard of them and the idea of having a stranger pick you up at a designated location isn’t as taboo as it would’ve been 10 years ago.

When users login to Uber for the first time to request a ride they must first input their information, valid credit card number, and allow “location services on” in order for the app to work. But what are users really agreeing to? In an article published by USA TODAY, states:

“Uber placed a digital wall around Apple’s headquarters in an effort to hide the fact it was breaking Apple rules by marking iPhones with persistent digital ID tags that would remain after users had deleted the Uber app and wiped the phone, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The actions — first, digital fingerprinting users’ devices and then, geofencing Apple’s headquarters to veil the company’s actions — earned Uber CEO Travis Kalanick an in-person rebuke from Apple CEO Tim Cook, who threatened to kick Uber out of the powerful Apple App store.”

Why you should care: persistent digital ID tags (PI or PID) are a long-lasting reference to your history over the internet. Persistent IDs can provide a single view of an individual across various devices and gather deterministic data from logins. AKA taking all of your detailed information, storing it, and creating your unique “ID”(learn more about persistent IDs here). This is in breach of Apple’s rules that prohibits the coding of fingerprinting within applications (which is a PI) in order to protect customer privacy.

To add injury to insult, Uber is additionally accused of geofencing Apple’s headquarters in order to prevent Apple engineers from seeing the fingerprinting code by creating an alternative version of the code that withholds the persistent ID. At this time the company has not responded to the Times’ allegation.

It seems as though a lot is unraveling for Kalanick and the team this month, last week word resurfaced that Uber did in fact copy valuable technology from Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo. Mind you, this is after the February lawsuit between Waymo and Uber.

Although everything is alleged at the moment, Uber will eventually need to speak on behalf of the allegations and start rebuilding its reputation with the public.