Uber hit by backlash over constant user tracking plans

Uber has faced numerous complaints since its inception in 2010, including suggestions that drivers are not properly vetted. Now the taxi service is facing legal action over plans to track the location of its customers whether the app is running in the foreground or background on their phones.

The new policy is due to come into force on 15 July, but the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a complaint with the FTC saying that the policy change is unfair and should be investigated by the commission. It will be possible to opt out of this location tracking, but EPIC feels this is unreasonable.

Referring to previous allegations about Uber, EPIC says that the company "regularly abuses its access to customer location data". But it is the proposed changes to user tracking that is now causing concerns. Uber's proposed user privacy statement reads: "We may also collect the precise location of your device when the app is running in the foreground or background. We may also derive your approximate location from your IP address".

In its complaint, EPIC says:

"In less than four weeks, Uber will claim the right to collect personal contact information and detailed location data of American consumers, even when they are not using the service.

It is not just location data that Uber is interested in. The proposed policy also refers to the collection of names and details from users' contacts - something the company has previously said could be useful for "new promotional features".

It's not clear quite why Uber wants to continually track user locations, but it could be something to do with potential location-based offers or advertising.

Photo credit: 360b / Shutterstock.com