Uber reportedly ‘tracked iPhones to stop fraud’.
A recent and highly in-depth New York Times article has shed new light on both the latest discovery in Uber’s privacy faux pas, and on how the company’s founder views all rules… namely, that they simply don’t apply.
Apple tell Uber what’s what
The article centers around a reported meeting – which both Uber and Apple have declined to comment on – in which Tim Cook sat founder Travis Kalanick down in a meeting and told him to stop using “fingerprinting” of iPhones or his ride-hailing app would be deleted from the App Store. At the time, Kalanick agreed, lest he risk losing access to the entire worldwide base of Apple customers.
Fingerprinting is a no, no
Fingerprinting is specifically banned by Apple’s terms for app developers. It’s a process that records an iPhone’s serial number when the user downloads or uses the app. For its part, Uber claimed that the process was necessary to keep thieves from using Uber on stolen phones and charging it to the account holder; however, that doesn’t explain the supposed “ringfencing” that Uber created around Cupertino, believed to be put in place to keep Apple from discovering that fingerprinting was taking place. It also doesn’t explain why Uber was able to flag devices even after the app was deleted, or after a phone had been wiped.
Some corporate names become permanently associated with the product or service they provide. Kleenex, for example, is now synonymous with “tissues,” and Tylenol can mean any form of over-the-counter headache relief in the common vernacular. Even the tech world has its share of everyday terminology: Google is now used as a verb that simply means to look something up online, regardless of which search engine you use to find it.
Unfortunately for a company that truly started out with an innovative concept, for some, the word Uber could now be synonymous with “shady practices that will probably violate your privacy.” The company has suffered an onslaught of bad press for a wide variety of reasons, not only linked to running roughshod over customers’ and contractors’ personal details. But other recent headlines surrounding the company’s practices have involved things like geofencing certain areas for its own personal gain, using “god view” to track riders’ locations and destinations, and other similar practices.