Uber Released Data on More Than 12 Million Users to US Law Enforcement Agencies

By Denisse Moreno, Epoch Times
April 13, 2016 12:40 pm Last Updated: April 13, 2016 2:07 pm

Uber released a transparency report on April 12, which reveals that data of over 12 million of its users was handed over to U.S. law enforcement agencies and regulators.

The report said between July and December 2015, it gave information of millions of riders and drivers to various U.S. agencies and regulators.

Uber said that regulated transportation companies are required by law to disclose certain data about their operation to local regulatory agencies. Data that is handed over includes information about trips, trip requests, pickup and dropoff areas, fares, vehicles, and drivers in their jurisdictions for a given timeframe.

The ride-sharing company also gave information on 469 users to state and federal law agencies.

The ride-sharing company also gave information on 469 users to state and federal law agencies. The report said the company receives requests from law enforcement for information linked to criminal investigations. That data may include specific trips, riders, or drivers.

Airport authorities also require transportation services to report information. The data released includes monthly trip reports; when vehicles enter and exit the airport area; where vehicles pick up and drop off within the airport area; and or each vehicle’s registration information, license plate, and driver. About 1,645,000 riders and 156,000 drivers were affected by that data release.

The report comes after the controversial legal fight between Apple and the FBI over the hacking of a iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. After Apple refused to unlock the phone citing privacy concerns, the FBI turned to a third party to hack the device. Apple vowed to work harder on security flaws.

Uber is also not happy about releasing data to U.S. agencies and regulators. The company said in many cases regulators send blanket requests without revealing why the information is needed, or how it will be used.

“While this kind of trip data doesn’t include personal information, it can reveal patterns of behavior — and is more than regulators need to do their jobs. It’s why Uber frequently tries to narrow the scope of these demands, though our efforts are typically rebuffed,” said Uber in a blog post.

The company hopes the transparency report makes a difference.

“We hope our Transparency Report will lead to a public debate about the types and amounts of information regulated services should be required to provide to their regulators, and under what circumstances,” said Uber.