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A recent update to ride-hailing app Uber is generating a negative reaction online, with customers concerned over the company's decision to track their location "from the time of trip request through five minutes after the trip ends," no matter if the app is open or not. The only option now available for users to negate the background tracking of their location is to go into iOS Settings > Privacy > Location Services and opt-in to "Never" allow Uber location access through the iPhone.

With no middle ground option of only tracking when the app is open, privacy advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation speaking with BuzzFeed News are now asking Uber to reintroduce such an option in the ride-hailing app. Uber said that tracking users five minutes after they leave their ride provides data that could improve the app's services, including whether or not customers are dropped off on the opposite side of the street of their destination, making them walk through traffic in the minutes after a ride.

uber-big-brother-800x763.jpg
The new @Uber app tracks you for FIVE minutes after you get dropped off without the ability to opt out. pic.twitter.com/A9JOLj8dUn - Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) December 5, 2016
Deputy executive director and general counsel at EFF, Kurt Opsahl, said that some people will "have very legitimate reasons" why they would want to opt out of such tracking services. He also noted that Uber's solution -- turning Location Services off -- harms the usability of the app, which uses GPS to automatically send a user's location to a driver for pick-up. If users want to stay secure and turn off tracking, they have to input their location manually.
"Tracking you five minutes after you have been dropped off -- some people might have very legitimate reasons why they don't want a record about that," Opsahl said. "They may be concerned about getting into some database about their location and may get dropped off across the street. It's sad to take that away."
Opsahl noted that the conversations with Uber are ongoing, but he and the EFF remain hopeful that the app will return to an option where user location will only be tracked when the app is open. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, is also watching the events surrounding the update, and sees it as a potentially scary first step to even more invasive location gathering updates.
"If Uber wants to make a case to its customers that they stand to benefit from additional uses of data, it should make that case and let customers opt in," [Stanley] said. "The five-minute thing is disturbing. Obviously that's not 24/7 tracking, but they are reserving themselves the ability to do that, which is even scarier."
For Uber, a company spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News that one of the biggest advantages of the five minute tracking update is that it "could also help customer service representatives investigate complaints or safety issues" raised by users following a ride. For now, the company has not indicated that it will roll back the update.

Article Link: Uber Faces Negative Reactions After Update Introduces Background GPS Tracking
 

geoff5093

macrumors 68020
Sep 16, 2014
2,238
2,556
Dover, NH
I call BS, they simply want to see what you do after your Uber ride in order to offer new services, advertise, and otherwise make more revenue. I fail to see how tracking someone for 5 minutes after their ride ends helps with their safety.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 604
May 31, 2007
7,041
12,702
Florida, USA
If Uber wants to implement something like this, fine, but they need to make it possible to opt-out without inconveniencing yourself.

Companies should realize that trying to force people to do what they don't want to do tends to backfire spectacularly.
 

TurboPGT!

Suspended
Sep 25, 2015
1,595
2,620
Lot of miscommunication here.

Allowing the App to track you when not using the App can mean a lot of different things depending on how the service and App are designed. It does not have to track, or keep tracking, for any length of time. So, introducing the "While Using" option is not a solution, and is not efficient for this particular App.

The 5 minutes is an intentional choice made by Uber. The App knows when the ride completes, and tracks for 5 more minutes because Uber wants that data.

I don't abide the "fauxrage" crowd that demands to use the service but not be subject to its terms. Uber can garner a lot of valuable information from that tracking detail and can use that to better protect its users and improve customer service and safety.

People ought to not be so quick to enact that tunnel vision fauxrage and actually give an example of why they think this is bad or puts them at risk.
 

decimortis

macrumors 6502a
Aug 28, 2007
519
1,317
Toronto
And no one noticed because every update just says "we are always trying to improve our app". This should be an option!

This is REALLY starting to bother me about app updates. I'd like to know what those improvements are. DropBox is the bloody worst, simply giving you a URL to visit to see what they've updated. Just put it in the release notes and keep things convenient, and transparent.
 

mquinn

macrumors member
Jan 29, 2012
67
75
Normal, IL
As an uber driver, I appreciate a way to prove that I 1) left the rider in the right spot and 2) can't be held liable for anything that happened after I leave as Uber knows where I am as well with the Driver app.

And if you use any Google service on your iPhone, a lot worse tracking is probably happening than this. Not to mention Apple's own Location-Based alerts and ads setting.
 

autrefois

macrumors 65816
If you don't like it, don't use Uber. Simple enough.

I've never understood this reaction. If someone uses an app, and the app changes, why can't people say they're unhappy? Sometimes companies actually listen to user suggestions and complaints and actually make things better.

It's the same "Love it or leave it pal" mentality that some people have about their country. If you don't like things the way they are, shut up or go somewhere else.

Maybe you can find fault with something but still love it and want it to improve?
 

TurboPGT!

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Sep 25, 2015
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I've never understood this reaction. If someone uses an app, and the app changes, why can't people say they're unhappy? Sometimes companies actually listen to user suggestions and complaints and actually make things better.

It's the same "Love it or leave it pal" mentality that some people have about their country. If you don't like things the way they are, shut up or go somewhere else.

Maybe you can find fault with something but still love it and want it to improve?
Because its not up to you. You are the user, and quite frankly, you don't have a clue what is best for the App or the service. User's like you will ignore all of the factual detail and will just fauxrage over some talking point, about which you know absolutely nothing.
 

Jeremy1026

macrumors 68020
Nov 3, 2007
2,212
1,014
Agreed. It should be mandatory to write what's new in an update. It really annoys me when all they write is "bug fixes".

"Bug fixes" is an order of magnitude better than "Every update of our app includes improvements for speed and reliability." They should just say, "We ticked the build number so that our reviews will reset again."
 

OldSchoolMacGuy

Suspended
Jul 10, 2008
4,197
9,050
Agreed. It should be mandatory to write what's new in an update. It really annoys me when all they write is "bug fixes".

Most people are clueless to what has been updated in a bug fix. The vast majority leave their phone in the default state which installs updates automatically so they never even see the notes.

As a developer it's a pain to keep those notes for the public and it often leads to more issues. With most not reading them and the majority of those that do not understanding them anyways, there's little reason to include them. Sorry.
 
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TurboPGT!

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Most people are clueless to what has been updated in a bug fix. The vast majority leave their phone in the default state which installs updates automatically so they never even see the notes.

As a developer it's a pain to keep those notes for the public and it often leads to more issues. With most not reading them and the majority of those that do not understanding them anyways, there's little reason to include them. Sorry.

There is also the competitive landscape. Not every developers wants to announce to their competitors exactly what was wrong and how they fixed it.

As a developer and avid user, I enjoy seeing useful release notes, but you are correct...to most users there is no value in them.

You can't win either way. I have users that complain about us not telling them whats new. When we do, we have them wrongly interpreting them and making poor decisions based on their interpretation.
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,874
15,011
In between a rock and a hard place
If Uber wants to implement something like this, fine, but they need to make it possible to opt-out without inconveniencing yourself.

Companies should realize that trying to force people to do what they don't want to do tends to backfire spectacularly.
Opt in. Opt in should be the only way. Companies know this. That's why they make things opt-out. They know most people aren't going to make that conscious decision to opt out
 
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bigchrisfgb

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2010
1,366
494
This was introduced a couple of weeks ago in an update. The next day my battery was being constantly drained because of it, I had to turn it off. That's before we even get into the privacy aspect.
 

TurboPGT!

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Sep 25, 2015
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Sure they do. Again, this is not up to you. There is value to them in knowing your location from the time you make a request, to the time the ride completes. There is also value in them knowing it for a few minutes after.

Just because YOU don't care about that, does not mean they do not, and does not mean the value doesn't exist.
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,874
15,011
In between a rock and a hard place
As an uber driver, I appreciate a way to prove that I 1) left the rider in the right spot and 2) can't be held liable for anything that happened after I leave as Uber knows where I am as well with the Driver app.

And if you use any Google service on your iPhone, a lot worse tracking is probably happening than this. Not to mention Apple's own Location-Based alerts and ads setting.
Nice fear mongering. 1. I was unaware you could be held liable for anything that could happen after you leave. It's nice to know you can be. <-- that right there. That's sarcasm btw. 2. Since we're going to fear monger, that 5 minute additional tracking in no way, shape, or form proves you left the rider in the right spot any more than the app did before the update. You could have stopped at the spot, given the passengers phone to an accomplice and... see, fear mongering is a slippery slope.

The 5 minute additional tracking doesn't benefit the customer in any appreciable way. Just because you dropped a customer in one location and tracked them for an additional 5 minutes there's no guarantee they are staying at that same location (pub crawl, meeting friends to go to another location, catching a flight) or anywhere near it.

Way to deflect by bringing Google and Apple's services into the picture. Neither have anything to do with this.
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,626
13,084
Europe
And no one noticed because every update just says "we are always trying to improve our app". This should be an option!

I agree, and Uber is not the only app that does this. Apple should make it mandatory to publish proper release notes with every update. It should be one of the app guidelines they review when approving updates.

I urge everyone to write feedback asking Apple to make proper release notes mandatory here: http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html

Most people are clueless to what has been updated in a bug fix. The vast majority leave their phone in the default state which installs updates automatically so they never even see the notes.

As a developer it's a pain to keep those notes for the public and it often leads to more issues. With most not reading them and the majority of those that do not understanding them anyways, there's little reason to include them. Sorry.

Too bad man. That sounds like "it's too hard to do my job, so I'm not going to do it."

As a developer, you should also be documenting what changes are being made. It's not too much time to convert those into an easily digestible bullet-point list of changes that affect the user experience. I can understand that a solo developer shop might not have the wherewithall to do this, but a huge company like Uber has no excuse.
 
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