LR City Board should join Al Franken's questions on Uber privacy concerns | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LR City Board should join Al Franken's questions on Uber privacy concerns

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 6:52 AM

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The cheerleaders for Uber remind me of nothing so much as the "rioters" — white male Republican aides — who gathered in Florida to prevent full counting of votes in the Bush-Gore contest. They want what they want and legal process be damned.

In Arkansas, Uber operates in Fayetteville and Little Rock without concern for laws that govern car hire services. Oh, sorry. They are a transportation network company. Their  acolytes think asking for assurance on insurance, driver background and vehicle safety is needless bother. It makes somebody like me, who began as a strong advocate of Uber, Lyft and others as taxi competition, much less enthusiastic.

We have learned also that a top Uber executive spoke candidly about doing opposition research on a critical journalist. We learned that the company, in New York, may have used its software to actually track a journalist. We learned that Uber might have broadcast information about a famous rider's whereabouts.

Are any in the noisy Uber Alles claque just the slight bit nervous yet about the attitude of this outfit — an attitude that reeks in multiple media accounts of arrogance laced with sexism?

Al Franken, the Minnesota senator, has questions.

Franken, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, remained skeptical, writing that "serious concerns" remain over the "scope, transparency, and enforceability of Uber's policies."

"The reports suggest a troubling disregard for customers' privacy, including the need to protect their sensitive geolocation data," Franken wrote.

Franken outlined 10 questions for Kalanick on the company's management and privacy practices, including inquiries on who has access to "God View" and what disciplinary actions are being taken against Michael for his remarks on journalists. Franken requested a response by Dec. 15.

Uber didn't respond to Franken. Maybe members of the Little Rock City Board can raise questions about privacy policy when Uber comes back before the Board Tuesday to fast-track its belated approval to operate in Little Rock. Director Adcock, maybe?

Meanwhile, Uber claims all rides in Little Rock are free at least through next Tuesday. Test them. Get the app and demand a free ride. Uber says drivers are being paid though riders are not being charged. Uber can afford the outlay.

Here's more reporting on potential misuse of Uber data.

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