Uber capitulated to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) early this week, agreeing to submit to two decades worth of audits.
The San Francisco-based company will need to implement a privacy program and submit to audits every 2 years for the next 20 years, reports ET Tech. The settlement follows an intense probe from US regulators concerned that Uber has “failed to protect the personal information of drivers and passengers and deceived the public about efforts to prevent snooping by its employees.”
The agreed terms are to ensure the company meets certain FTC requirements.
ET Tech reports the FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen had the following to say in regards to the settlement with Uber: “Our order requires a culture of privacy sensitivity for Uber. It’s going to make them take privacy into account every day.”
Uber’s privacy woes with the government began in 2014. The FTC first began its probe into Uber three years ago after media reports unveiled “God View.” Uber employees used “God View” to monitor their customers’ real-time locations after using the app to hail a ride.
Uber was quick to defend itself after the media firestorm that “God View” unleashed. In 2015, the company claimed it had a “strict policy prohibiting employees from accessing rider and driver data,” ET Tech continues. However, Ben Rossen, an FTC staff attorney, has revealed that in fact, Uber only enforced their claimed “strict policy” for around eight months.
The FTC conducted a separate probe during the same year that “God View” was discovered by the media, investigating a data breach in May of 2014. During the breach, more than 100,000 names and license numbers of Uber’s drivers were stolen.
In response to their investigation of the data breach, the FTC said that Uber “did not take reasonable, low-cost measures that could have helped the company prevent the breach.” One example the agency put forward was that Uber “allowed its engineers and programmers to use a single key that gave them full administrative access to all the data.”
Uber’s current settlement with the FTC is just the company’s latest attempt to move forward after continuing setbacks. For much of 2017, the company has been consumed with sexual harassment allegations, a lawsuit over its autonomous-car designs, and a wave of top executives leaving the company, including the CEO Travis Kalanick. Oh, and an investor lawsuit filed against that same departed CEO as in-fighting between a divided board of directors and angered shareholders increases.
Ohlhausen, who presided over the settlement with Uber, said, “Uber failed consumers in two key ways: first by misrepresenting the extent to which it monitored its employees’ access to personal information about users and drivers, and second by misrepresenting that it took reasonable steps to secure that data,” BBC News reports.