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Uber settles with feds over charges it misled on privacy

Eric Risberg / AP

Uber has reached a deal with federal regulators who accused the ride-hail company of misrepresenting the way it protected its customer and driver data. It's the latest issue for a company that has been plagued by turmoil this year.

The settlement: The company has agreed to "implement a comprehensive privacy program that addresses privacy risks related to new and existing products and services and protects the privacy and confidentiality of personal information collected by the company." It will also submit to audits of its privacy program for two decades.

Allegations:

  • The Federal Trade Commission says that Uber mislead the public when it said it guarded against employees improperly accessing consumer data. After BuzzFeed News reported in 2014 that the company had a "god view" that employees could use to track customers, the company said it had a policy in place to prevent that sort of tracking except in a limited set of cases.
  • But the FTC says the firm dropped a new system to curtail the issues shortly thereafter. "The FTC's complaint alleges that Uber, for more than nine months afterwards, rarely monitored internal access to personal information about users and drivers," the agency said in a release.
  • The company was also accused of overstating the way it secured consumer data.

Uber's response: "The complaint involved practices that date as far back as 2014. We've significantly strengthened our privacy and data security practices since then and will continue to invest heavily in these programs," said an Uber spokesperson in an email. "This settlement provides an opportunity to work with the FTC to further verify that our programs protect user privacy and personal information."