Uber will stop tracking users after their trips are over and they exit the ride-hailing mobile app, the company's Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said during a Tuesday interview with Reuters. The move is meant to mark the latest step in the company's effort to increase the privacy of its users by eliminating a controversial feature that attracted major criticism from the general public in late 2016. The San Francisco, California-based tech giant is expected to officially announce the change later today, Mr. Sullivan suggested, adding that the decision to stop tracking users after their rides are over has nothing to do with the firm's current corporate struggles that saw some of its investors fight for control of the most valuable startup in the world after co-founder Travis Kalanick was pressured to resign his CEO position in late June.
Up until recently, Uber was tracking some of its customers for five minutes after their trips, which the company said it was doing to ensure their physical safety, though many critics claimed the move is a breach of user privacy. Mr. Sullivan said the functionality was later suspended on Android and was never implemented on iOS devices, adding that the company made a mistake by not clearly communicating what it was doing with the data it collected and not revealing what customers can expect in return. Following that line of thinking, Uber CSO didn't exclude the possibility of the firm reintroducing the feature in some unspecified future but vowed to present it in a much more transparent manner in such a scenario.
Mr. Sullivan's comments come only two weeks after Uber settled a privacy case helmed by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) whose Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen claimed that the company "failed consumers" by not doing enough to protect their data and misrepresenting the extent of its privacy-oriented endeavors. As part of its settlement with the federal regulator, Uber agreed to 20 years of regular independent audits of its security practices and also vowed to implement some immediate changes to its data protection and privacy solutions. The decision to stop tracking users after their trips may be related to Uber's FTC settlement though the company has yet to officially correlate the two.