What Will Uber and Lyft Do When Cops Request a Free Ride?
Apps like Uber and Lyft have access to a wide array of data on our smartphones, chief of which is the precise GPS location that each company uses to connect drivers and passengers. According to a recent Pew Internet poll, Americans consider location data to be among the most sensitive types of personal data. So it’s no surprise that law enforcement agencies sometimes want access to the data – in fact, we know from the largest cell carriers’ transparency reports that demands for location data are substantial and on the rise. So what are Uber and Lyft’s policies for location data?
Lyft and Uber are hardly the only way that location information and other sensitive data are collected from users today. That being said, with many users putting their lives in these services’ hands, there is a responsibility to clearly explain data practices, both internal and external, and to live up to them. As we've illustrated in our business primer, doing so isn't just good for privacy, it's good for business. That’s why as services like Uber and Lyft take steps to reassure consumers about internal data practices, they should clarify and explain the steps they take to ensure user data is secured from government access, too.
Matt Cagle is a Policy Fellow with the ACLU of Northern California’s Technology & Civil Liberties project.