Uber agreed to 20 years of independent audits and a number of other compromises over privacy charges that the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) previously brought against it, the state agency announced on Tuesday. Apart from reviews that will be conducted by independent auditors in the next six months and every second year after that for two decades, Uber also agreed to stop misinterpreting the manner in which it monitors access to personal data of consumers that its employees have and will also stop misrepresenting the practices it employs to protect that same information. As part of its settlement with the FCC, the San Francisco, California-based ride-hailing company also pledged to create a new all-encompassing privacy program that should assess and address all risks related to any potential data breaches in an effort to do a better job at protecting user privacy. The initiative must be implemented no later than the date when the FTC's order becomes effective which has yet to be determined.
The federal regulator started its investigation into Uber's practices after receiving word of a 2014 hacking attack that compromised the company's database hosted by Amazon Web Services and saw personal data of over 100,000 individuals stolen. The compromised information included driver's license numbers and full names, the FTC said, with its Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen stating how Uber "failed consumers" by misrepresenting its privacy practices on a number of levels. Ms. Ohlhausen also dismissed Uber's aggressive business model that led it to become the most valuable startup in the world by saying how even the fastest-growing firms in the country "can’t leave consumers behind."
Uber has yet to comment on the matter in any capacity, though the latest turn of events comes amidst the largest internal crisis the company experienced since its 2009 beginnings; the firm is presently without a CEO following Travis Kalanick's departure in June and is still fighting a major legal battle with Alphabet's Waymo over alleged trade secret theft. Mr. Kalanick was recently sued by one of Uber's largest and earliest investors over supposed fraud, with Benchmark Capital insinuating that he's jeopardizing the company's search for a new CEO following reports that he's planning on "Steve Jobs-ing" himself out of his current predicament.