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Al Franken's Letter to Uber

Recently, Uber updated its app relatively dramatically, and one of the changes made is a subject of concern to a member of Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has published a letter to the company (care of their president) suggesting the privacy policy get a consumer-friendly update as well.

Franken says he is concerned that the updated app has eliminated a significant feature – the ability to turn off Uber’s access to a consumer’s location when the app is not being used.

The Senator says that consumers have only two choices now; allowing Uber to access their location “always” or “never.” If they choose “always,” Franken suggests that Uber can track consumers, even when the app is not being used. If they choose “never,” it leaves consumers with imprecise pick-up and drop-off information. A lose-lose.

“While the stated justifications for this update appear well intentioned, I strongly believe that American consumers deserve a meaningful opportunity to decide for themselves the fate of their personal data,” Franken wrote. At the very least, he says consumers should be aware of what data is being collected about them and how it’s used and shared.

“To achieve this necessary transparency, I urge you to amend Uber’s privacy statement to reflect the company’s public assurances and justifications related to the most recent app update,” Franken concluded.

The service industry, in our opinion, should be all about, well, service. Companies with the means and ability of Uber should be able to give their customers the experience they want both inside and outside of their cars. I applaud Sen. Franken here for saying something to the transportation giant – there is no need for them to keep tabs on their users the way they are.

 

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