Are you, or is someone you know a driver for Uber? Have you used the rideshare service to get from Point A to Point B? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then odds are good that at least some of your information has been shared with a variety of government agencies.
Unfortunately, the company has not had much of a choice in the matter. Last year, when they failed to comply with a government ‘request’ for such information, they were fined $7.6 million dollars, making these requests more like thinly disguised demands.
In all, the company has been forced to hand over rideshare information in one form or another on more than 14 million drivers and riders, and the requests just keep coming.
If there’s a bright spot in all of this, it is twofold. First, trip information does not contain a user’s personal data, so no addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers or the like. Even so, in some of these cases, Uber has complained that when they are forced to hand over GPS coordinates, the data can be used to develop patterns and ultimately lead to government agents tracking Uber users.
All of this came out as a result of the release of Uber’s first “Transparency Report,” which was a detailed accounting of the requests it has received, and the number of riders and users each request impacted. The company plans to release a new Transparency Report every six months, in the hopes of sparking a conversation about privacy, centered on the fact that oftentimes, the government requests far more information than needed, and as often as not, don’t actually provide Uber with the reason for the request, which could help them filter and narrow the information they hand over.
The short answer then, is yes. If you’ve used Uber, it’s entirely possible that your information has been shared, and until we get a better handle on the issue of privacy, and pass new and better laws to protect it, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.