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Starting July 15, ridesharing service Uber will update its privacy policies to allow tracking of a user's location in the background, the company revealed in a blog post.
The change is meant to "get people on their way more quickly," the company said. As it stands, the Uber mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone can only fetch location once open, sometimes creating a slight delay.
Another policy change will see the company ask for contact permissions in order to send "special offers" to family and friends.
Uber has encountered a number of privacy controversies, such as an incident in which its leading New York executive tracked a Buzzfeed journalist using an internal Uber tool known as God View. The software isn't open to individual drivers, but is accessible at the corporate level, and displays not just the location of Uber vehicles but also those of people who have requested a ride.
To allay fears, Uber said in the blog post that people will have to opt in to the changes. In the case of location tracking, the company is promising not to save a record of past trips.
Uber is acutely aware of public perception regarding data privacy and has been bolstering its legal team to handle the legal side of such matters. Most recently, the company hired away Apple legal counsel and privacy law specialist Sabrina Ross to handle strategic Uber partnerships and regulatory policy issues.