In recent years, you have most likely said or heard someone say “I’ll request an Uber”. Ridesharing apps like Lyft and Uber have rapidly transformed the way we get around. In busy cities, getting a ride at the touch of a phone screen has proven to be a very successful despite the many questions around privacy and real-time location data collection. So let’s take a deeper dive into what kind of privacy concerns affect ridesharing apps and their users.
What information is collected?
Most ridesharing companies have a smartphone app that works on iOS and Android. A user signs up and gives some personal details, along with a credit card or PayPal account. When they are ready to find a ride, the nearest driver is dispatched based on the user’s GPS location. With access to the user’s device’s GPS capabilities to find nearby drivers, the app will collect and store the data. The apps can vary in how much data they collect, but there have been instances for them to store information about where their users are going and how long they stay there for marketing and service improvements.
Additionally, social media accounts are many times linked to ridesharing services for the purposes of promotion, identity confirmation and to facilitate easy and quick signup for new users. However, some apps also pull information from your profile that might not be immediately relevant to getting a lift – for example, your birthdate, friends and interests.
What to think about when choosing a rideshare app?
It’s also important to seek out and read other customer reviews of their experience with the apps and companies. This can help get a better idea of how the company values their clients, their privacy and how they conduct their business.
Regulation of apps
Traditionally, there have been two types of car services- taxies or black cars/limos. With the emergence of rideshare apps, questions have arose in the legal world how they should be classified. As cities consider if and how they should regulate these rideshare services, they must determine whether existing classifications adequately describe them or whether new sets of rules are needed to address concerns for public safety and consumer protection.
Do you use ridesharing apps? Do you think the benefits and convenience outweigh the potential privacy concerns? Share your thoughts with us.