Cybersecurity firm and VPN provider Surfshark has conducted a study of popular taxi and ride-hailing apps to ascertain how much data each app collects. The company is publishing the results of its detailed study ahead of Data Privacy Day on January 28.
Surfshark also put out its data sensitivity index detailing the types of data each ride-sharing app collects. Globally recognized app, Uber, made it to number three by collecting 22 of the 32 data points available (as defined by the Apple App Store).
GrabTaxi, an app predominantly used in South-eastern Asia, came first, collecting 27 data points. Meanwhile, Yandex Go stood second among apps that collect the most data. This app is popular in Russia and a few Central Asian countries.
“Many people today are willing to trade privacy for comfort and share their personal information in exchange for a service. By doing so, people leave digital footprints everywhere they go, including their personal details, physical addresses, and even the links they click on,” Surfshark CEO Vytautas Kaziukonis said.
“Moreover, some apps share users’ personal information with ‘third parties’ for marketing purposes. For instance, our study shows that 9 out of 30 analyzed ride-hailing apps use collected data for ‘Third-Party advertising.’”
Apps like Rapido and TaxiEU collected the least amount of data from their customers
The study found that ride-hailing apps collect up to 14 data points on average. Moreover, up to 30% of the brands reportedly use it for third-party advertising. Among the apps researched for this study, most of them gather info such as device and user ID, product interaction data, and precise user location data with third parties.
Some taxi apps can even use data such as payment and contact info, user content, and other sensitive data for third-party marketing. On the bright side, some apps collect limited data from their customers. Surfshark’s report points out Indian ride-sharing service Rapido, which reportedly collects up to 10 times fewer data than GrabTaxi. Rapido only accesses the user’s name, phone number, and location.
Second on the list of the least data-hungry apps is TaxiEU. Although this service collects some “analytics data” to improve services, it does not access sensitive user data. French service LeCab secures the third spot on this list.
All ride-hailing apps have to collect location data to provide their services. “While such data is considered private information, its collection is justifiable as it’s also needed for the app to function,” Surfshark notes.