In a complaint to be filed on Monday with the government's consumer watchdog, EPIC alleges that Uber's updated privacy rules — scheduled to go into effect in July — deceive consumers by granting the company the right to track users' precise location even when they are not actively using its service. EPIC argues that Uber has a history of abusing user location data, does not adequately protect its database of sensitive consumer information, and has not addressed concerns about its data practices raised by several members of Congress.
"There is a clear divide between Uber's representations as to their consumers' control over their personal information, and Uber's actual business practices," the complaint reads. "Consumers are led to believe that they retain control over their personal data, when in fact they do not."
EPIC has asked the FTC to investigate under its authority to challenge unfair and deceptive practices.
A spokesperson for the FTC told BuzzFeed News, "FTC investigations are non-public and we do not confirm or deny the existence of any investigations. We welcome complaints from consumers and consumer groups and review them carefully."
Reached for comment, Uber dismissed EPIC's allegations with a terse statement: "There is no basis for this complaint. We care deeply about the privacy of our riders and driver-partners and have significantly streamlined our privacy statements in order to improve readability and transparency. These updated statements don't reflect a shift in our practices, they more clearly lay out the data we collect today and how it is used to provide or improve our services."
Hamza Shaban is a technology policy reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Hamza Shaban at Hamza.Shaban@buzzfeed.com.
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