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Advocates Worry Uber's Location Tracking Could Have Bad Implications For Digital Privacy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- How much are the apps on your phone tracking where you go?

Uber now keeps tabs on users' locations even after they get out of the car, and as CBS2's Ali Bauman explained, some digital defenders worry it could compromise your security.

Requesting a ride at the tap of a smartphone is convenient.

Apps like Uber use your location to pick up right where you're standing, but once the car drops you off, how long should the app follow you?

"There's no reason they need to know my location if I'm not requesting a car at that moment," Uber customer Emily Driehorst said.

That used to be the policy, but now Uber tracks riders' location for five minutes after they get out of the car, even if the app is not open.

Peter Micek -- a digital rights advocate -- said the change puts privacy at risk.

"It's not necessarily about what Uber's doing today, how they're using the data. It's more about how they could use the data or malicious attackers or governments could access that data in the future," Micek said.

Uber told CBS2 the change will help with ETAs, pick ups, efficiency on pool rides, and passenger safety.

"They already know where they dropped you off, so what's five minutes after? Where are you gonna go?" Adam Shuty said.

Some riders choose to be dropped off a few blocks away to keep their true destination private.

"People might do that if they've got a sensitive business meeting, two companies discussing a merger, that's incredibly valuable data," Micek said.

The location tracking is not required, you can go into your settings and choose to 'never be tracked.'

Micek believes any location tracking app needs transparency about where the data is stored and for how long.

"It's only a matter of time really until someone finds their way into this very valuable storehouse off data. It's a right to privacy we've got to safeguard and be vigilant to protect," Micek said.

He advised riders to be aware of the data they disclose to apps, and just as important, the data we don't.

Uber has 40-million monthly passengers worldwide.




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