Tag Archives: God View

Uber Spies on Customers, Including Celebs

One thing about data rich environments – you have to trust that the data keepers do what they say they are going to do.

As we all know, Uber collects a lot of data – even data that they don’t know what they will use it for – but surely they will need it in the future – for something.

Uber has said that it can’t access ride information for users, but a former Uber security expert says that is not the case.  He says that Uber employees stalked ex boyfriends and girlfriends and celebrities.

Spangenberg, who is now suing Uber for age discrimination, says that employees can track politicians, Ex’es, celebrities and personal acquaintances of Uber employees.

A couple of years ago, the concept of “God View” became public – a feature in the Uber software that allowed employees to bypass privacy and security controls.

According to Spangenberg, even driver’s socials are at risk.

The only data, he says, that is not at risk, is credit card information.  That is not because they protect it but rather because they use a third party (Braintree) to process credit card transactions.

Spangenberg objected, he says, to reckless and illegal practices and Uber fired him.

Another ex Uber employee, Michael Sierchio, a former senior security engineer, said that when he was at Uber, you could stalk an ex or look up anyone’s ride with the flimsiest of excuses.  There was no approval required.  He said that Uber was interested in growth at all costs and was told that they were not a security company.

Uber said that it fired fewer than 10 employees who abused the feature.  Of course, if you don’t look, you won’t find any problems, so that number is meaningless.  They claim to have hundreds of security and privacy experts working around the clock.

According to security experts, Uber’s policy is based on the honor system, which employees can abuse at any time.

While Uber has instituted some controls, Spangenberg says that if you know what you are doing you can get around them forever.

Personally, taxis work pretty well for me most of the time.  If you do use Uber, you should probably kill the app or reboot your phone after you get out of the car.

Information for this post came from Fox News.

Uber God View

Following up on today’s Uber theme, There is an article on USAToday.com tonight that says that Uber has something they call “God View” that allows Uber employees to stalk VIP users (and apparently track the movements of any Uber user) – including journalists who are writing articles negative to Uber.

My guess is that this is no different than what a lot of tech companies can do – they have a lot of data about us and we have no choice but to trust how they use the data or not use the service.

The challenge is that we don’t really know what companies that have our data can do, cannot do or claim that they should not do even though they can.

Obviously, transparency is important and to the degree that companies fess up to what they are doing, that makes the decisions that we make more valid.

For example, Amazon knows everything that I purchase (and if I am logged in, everything that I look at) and Netflix knows every movie that I watch.  My cable or satellite provider knows every show that I watch and every commercial that I TIVO over.

I make a decision based on that knowledge whether I want to use those services based on the facts that I know about.