Uber's Data Privacy Again in the Crosshairs

Jan. 9, 2017  |  By Holly Dragoo

Uber Technologies Inc. is again in the crosshairs of the data disclosure debate as New York City seeks more information about drivers’ activities.  The battle began with a public hearing last week that is another example of local government after more data about their citizens. This time, NYC wants disclosure of the address and time of every drop-off, citing a concern for driver fatigue and hourly caps on the workweek that is similar to the safety protections in place for airline flight crews. Uber and Lyft have had similar fights across the U.S., “invariably reaching the same conclusion each time: they should share less data than local governments want,” writes Bloomberg Technology.

IISP Analyst Holly Dragoo: "Having fatigue prevention in place is actually not a bad idea, but it’s not clear why the city needs access specifically to the addresses. It’s also not clear how the City would access, archive, or protect that information. Couldn’t the same goal be achieved by just having activity time logs paired up with a one-up number or customer ID to show uniqueness? Once a driver reached an activity cap for a day or week, then they could de-activate their revenue generating apps or some such shut-down feature. The need for the customer data here seems unnecessary. Ironic that Uber should be advocating for the privacy concerns of its staff and riders, though, with their noted use of the “God View” company tracking tool last year."



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