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Uber Is Killing A Feature That Let It Track Users Even After Their Rides Ended

The company's security chief said putting the feature in the app in the first place was "a mistake."

Posted on August 29, 2017, at 7:14 a.m. ET

BuzzzFeed News

Uber is scrapping a controversial feature that allows it to track riders for up to five minutes after they finish a trip. The change will start rolling out to iPhone users users this week and will eventually also come to Android phones, reports Reuters. The company's decision comes nearly two weeks after Uber settled a Federal Trade Commission complaint about failing to protect driver and rider information, and allowing its employees to snoop on personal user data.

Uber declined to comment to BuzzFeed News.

When the feature was introduced in November 2016, Uber riders were offered two options: They could either allow Uber to always track their location even if they weren’t using Uber, or turn off location tracking entirely, which meant that riders would need to manually enter their pickup location when requesting rides.

The world's largest ride-hailing company had said that it needed to track users’ location data up to five minutes after their trip ended to “improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety,” but still came under fire from privacy advocates including the Electronic Frontier Foundation for its decision.

Uber’s security chief, Joe Sullivan, told Reuters that Uber had “made a mistake” by introducing the feature “without making clear what value Uber would offer in return.” He also said that Uber suffered a “lack of expertise” when it came to privacy.

Uber recently picked Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive of travel company Expedia, to be its next CEO following months of internal turmoil including in-board fighting, investigations into sexual harassment and discrimination charges, and a trade secrets lawsuit filed by Google's self-driving arm, Waymo.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.