Uber Exec Under Fire for Using 'God View' to Track Journalist

Josh WolfordBusiness

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In the wake of an Uber VP's comments about possibly digging up user data and using it against critical journalists and the absolute crapstorm that followed, Uber says that it is investigating its top NYC exec for privacy violations.

According to BuzzFeed, Uber New York General Manager used Uber's internal ability to watch over all Uber activity, referred to as "God View", to track the location of one of their writers. And apparently, he revealed this to her in the creepiest of ways.

From BuzzFeed:

Tracking customers is easy using an internal company tool called “God View,” 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.

Early this November, one of the reporters of this story, Johana Bhuiyan, arrived to Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City for an interview with Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber New York. Stepping out of her vehicle — an Uber car — she found Mohrer waiting for her. “There you are,” he said, holding his iPhone and gesturing at it. “I was tracking you.”

And according to Bhuiyan, this wasn't the first time that Mohrer had accessed her user data without permission. Apparently, a couple months ago, Mohrer emailed Bhuiyan a copy of her Uber trip logs.

These allegations come merely hours after a report emerged suggesting that an Uber VP named Emil Michael had proposed that Uber could, in theory, dig up dirt on critical journalists and use that to fight back against bad press. He specifically railed against PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy, who published a piece critical of Uber back in October.

Uber was quick to distance the company from Michael's remarks, saying that they "have not, do not and will not investigate journalists. Those remarks have no basis in the reality of our approach."

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a 13-part Twitter response late Tuesday.

And Uber did something it hasn't done before – disclose information about its privacy policy.

"Uber has a strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data. The only exception to this policy is for a limited set of legitimate business purposes. Our policy has been communicated to all employees and contractors," said the company.

Tracking a journalist on her way to conduct an interview at your headquarters likely fails to fall under "a limited set of legitimate business purposes".

"Uber’s business depends on the trust of the riders and drivers that use our technology and platform. The trip history of our riders is confidential information, and Uber protects this data from internal and external unauthorized access. As the company continues to grow, we will continue to be transparent about our policy and ensure that it is properly understood by our employees," the company continued.

With every new allegation, that trust is quickly eroding. This whole mess has spawned a #DeleteUber Twitter campaign, which has been growing steadily for the past 72 hours.

Image via Uber, Facebook

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf