UPDATE (June 23): An Uber spokesperson contacted Global News to clarify that the app’s ability to collect location data about customers when the user’s GPS is turned off is a feature that may come into effect in the future – however, the company will not be collecting that kind of data when the new policy comes into effect on July 15.
When these changes come into effect, users will be notified and will have the ability to opt-out of location tracking features.
The U.S.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) submitted a complaint to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Monday, citing concerns over the new data tracking policy, first outlined by Uber in May.
Uber’s new policy also outlines changes that could allow the app to access the user’s contacts, in order to send special offers to the user’s friends and family.
“This collection of users’ information far exceeds what customers expect from the transportation service,” read the complaint submitted by EPIC.
“Users would not expect the company to collect location information when customers are not actively using the app.”
EPIC argues that forcing users to opt out “places an unreasonable burden on consumers.”
“There is no basis for this complaint. We care deeply about the privacy of our riders and driver-partners and have significantly streamlined our privacy statements in order to improve readability and transparency,” read a statement from an Uber spokesperson issued to Global News.
“These updated statements don’t reflect a shift in our practices, they more clearly lay out the data we collect today and how it is used to provide or improve our services.”
But this isn’t the first time Uber has come under fire for its tracking features.
In November, the company’s privacy practices were called into question following allegations that one of its top executives tracked a Buzzfeed reporter’s location without her permission using an internal company tool called “God View.”
The tool allows Uber employees to see the location of Uber vehicles and customers who have requested a car via the app.
In 2009, Uber customer Peter Sims said he was travelling in an Uber car in Manhattan when he received a text message from an acquaintance recounting his every move. Turns out, that person was at an Uber launch party in Chicago where Sims’ location was being shown on a screen via “God View.”