Uber clarifies data privacy policy as controversy rumbles

The story that broke earlier in the week about an Uber executive threatening to investigate critical journalists’ private lives rumbles on, with the company providing a couple of official responses yesterday.

First, chief executive Travis Kalanick went on a tweetstorm with 13 tweets addressing the issue, although while it concluded with a direct apology to Sarah Lacy, the journalist targeted in the original comments, as Valleywag points out, there were several questions he didn’t answer.

As time has gone by, journalists have been focusing on another aspect of the original BuzzFeed report that kicked off this debate – the claim that an Uber exec had “accessed the profile of a BuzzFeed News reporter, Johana Bhuiyan, to make points in the course of a discussion of Uber policies” without their permission.

Uber has now published a blog post which it says aims to “make very clear our policy on data privacy, which is fundamental to our commitment to both riders and drivers”. It refers to a “strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data” except for “legitimate business purposes”.

Technology journalists are, unsurprisingly, questioning whether Uber’s radar for what constitutes “legitimate business” has been malfunctioning for some time. But how are you feeling about Uber and other companies of its type, in regards to privacy?

Do you worry about the way your data fits into the “sharing economy”, or do the benefits of services like Uber and Airbnb trump any concerns that your records will be used against you in the future? Is this a specific issue between journalists and Uber, or is this controversy going to put non-hacks off using the company too?

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