In the wake of a BuzzFeed News story, the transit company is looking into the official’s tracking of a journalist’s location.
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This investigation comes following the BuzzFeed News story which stated the incident of the reporter’s ride being tracked without her permission and it also mentioned what an Uber executive suggested about smearing the journalists for writing critically about Uber. It was certainly wrong of the executive to suggest digging into the private lives of journalists and regrets making that comment.
The tracking of customers is no big deal for Uber thanks its tool called “God View” as reported by two former Uber employees who revealed the piece of information to BuzzFeed News. According to them, God View is available to the corporate employees and it shows the location of Uber vehicles and customers who have requested a car. The incident, which took place earlier this month, involves Johana Bhuiyan, one of the reporters on the story, who went to Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City for an interview with Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber New York. Upon stepping out of her car, which was an Uber car, she was greeted by Mohrer who was already waiting for her and said while looking down at this iPhone “There you are. I was tracking you.”
The problem was that he never asked for her permission to track her and this is a clear violation of privacy. Even her data was accessed without any permission. This came two months earlier when Bhuiyan had asked about ride-share competitor Lyft and to make a point of her questions, Mohrer had emailed her logs of some of her Uber trips.
Such kind if access to data and its use is only permissible for legitimate business purposes and if there is a violation of any sort, it calls for immediate disciplinary action which could possibly also lead to termination and legal action according to Uber. Hence, the company has been investigating Mohrer’s actions in tracking Bhuiyan and accessing her logs.
The two former Uber employees have also revealed that the tracking system could easily be accessed by the staff however one employee also said that he never saw any unauthorized use of the tool.
This doesn’t appear t be the first time Uber is being involved in a tracking issue. Venture capitalist Peter Sims wrote about being tracked in a blog post this September. In 2011 he was travelling in an Uber car in Manhattan and he started to receive some text messages from someone he didn’t know. The messages were telling him exactly where he was and it appeared later on that the person sending the messages was at an Uber launch party in Chicago, where Sims’ movements were being tracked via God View on a large public screen.
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