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Uber's "God View" Tool, Privacy And Alleged Tracking

Uber logo On Monday, BuzzFeed reported about possible ethics and privacy issues at Uber, the ride-sharing social service:

"A senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company."

The executive was Emil Michael, a senior vice president:

"Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service."

Then, BuzzFeed reported on Wednesday that Uber:

"... is investigating its top New York executive for tracking a BuzzFeed News reporter without her permission in violation of what the transit giant says has long been its privacy policy. The company also published its privacy policy for the first time on Tuesday, though it said the policy had always been in effect..."

What the "God View" tool is and does:

"Tracking customers is easy... two former Uber employees told BuzzFeed News. They said God View, which shows the location of Uber vehicles and customers who have requested a car, was widely available to corporate employees. Drivers, who operate as contractors, do not have access to God View."

Uber is headquartered in San Francisco. Travis Kalanick is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. Salle Yoo is the General Counsel. The list of investors includes actor Ashton Kutcher, Goldman Sachs, and Google Ventures. The Daily Beast listed ten Uber horror stories customers experienced. Rightly so, Uber executives face tough questions in Congress.

The Los Angeles Time reported:

"Uber has been come to known for its aggressive tactics, including making controversial statements, attempting to undercut its key rival Lyft by poaching their drivers and heavily criticizing the taxi industry's traditional way of doing business. Where does it all come from? Three of the values that employees are judged on are "fierceness," "super pumpedness" and "scale" (increasing the number of users)..."

Regardless of whether or not Michael stays at Uber, the issues remain regarding privacy, tracking of customers, and a questionable corporate culture. And, I'm sure that many government spy and law enforcement agencies would eagerly use, if they don't already, geolocation output from the God View tool.

If you use Uber, what are your opinions of the service? Of the God View tool? Do you turst Uber? Do you trust other social networking services not to track real-time, via their mobile apps, your physical movements?


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The temptation to God-like power of God View's ability to ubiquitously track and locate Uber's customers is too much for humans to resist. However, the first steps on that road of temptation and seduction has already occurred, as firms, such as Google, Facebook, et al., have already invaded our privacy by expropriating our personal information for their profit, personal information which includes but goes well beyond our mere location in real time. Indeed, Google, Uber, Facebook, and their ilk all have a God-View of us. And because of the huge amounts of profits and the political influence which taking our personal information can purchase, those firms have bent our governments in their executive, legislative, and judicial branches to their will, so that no adequate legal restraint protects our personal information and/or restrains firms in the collection and use of it.

So Uber, Facebook, Google, and their ilk have come to think that they might be gods or at least have god-like powers, which, of course, they, in their view, use only for good and human progress, though that good and progress rather curiously always promotes and enhances their profits. Well, what's good for firms that use IT to collect our personal information for profit is good for America and for at least the interconnected world.

What should one think of all this, even though we are told that resistance is futile? I think that it is a wicked thing, for whenever has it come to naught but evil that men fancy themselves gods and take a God-View and do so with their principal motive being little else other than their profit and with no significant restrain of law on their how they use their God-View of us to make their profits and satisfy their desires? Who but one who already fancies himself a god would shamelessly name his ubiquitous spying app God View? And, if Google, Facebook, Uber, and their ilk are gods, what lowly dignity do we hold with respect to them? Silicon Valley? Hell, it is Mount Olympus.

George Jenkins


Well said. Well said.


George Jenkins


For those interested in taking action, two resources:

To Delete Or Not To Delete: That's The Uber Question

How To Cancel An Uber Account


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