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The Electronic Privacy Information Center, also known as EPIC, has taken an account of Uber’s new privacy policy.  Uber has a long history of privacy related complaints, most notably the allegation that an Uber executive spied on a journalist who was preparing an unflattering story on Uber.  But now EPIC is concerned that Uber’s stated privacy policy is deceptive and unlawful in its tracking of each user’s geo-location.

EPIC has taken the step of filing a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which summarily states its concerns with the changes in Uber’s privacy policy:

These changes ignore the FTC’s prior decisions, threaten the privacy rights and personal safety of American consumers, ignore past bad practices of the company involving the misuse of location data, pose a direct risk of consumer harm, and constitute an unfair and deceptive trade practice subject to investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

The most concerning changes to EPIC, and any privacy advocate, are the changes in the amount of geo-location data that Uber is set to collect.  Notably, while claiming in its policy that it will collect geo-location data “if you permit it to,” the reality is that the new changes allow Uber to collect data when the app is running in the foreground or the background.  Because consumers generally have little understanding of the running background apps, EPIC is concerned that this is an open invitation to collect every step an Uber user takes  without proper comprehension due to the confusing terms in the policy.

EPIC’s ongoing mission and this individual complaint continue to illuminate the privacy issues that continue to grow as so many engage in online communication.  Individuals who have been deceived or misled may also have the ability to change this policy through the right consumer protection litigation.  Hopefully, consumers will step up against Uber and support the attempt to rein in the seemingly limitless collection of data.

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