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Uber's new tracking policy raising privacy concerns

A recent update from Uber that allows the ride-sharing company to track passengers for several minutes after they’re dropped off is upsetting privacy advocates.

BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- A recent update from Uber that allows the ride-sharing company to track passengers for several minutes after they’re dropped off is upsetting privacy advocates.

It used to be that iPhone users could keep Uber from tracking their location or only allow it when the application was open.

Now, after an update from late 2016, Uber has the ability to always follow your location from the time you open the app to five minutes after you’re ride ends even if the app is closed in the background.

Claire Gartland, a spokesperson for The Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., said Uber’s new policy goes too far.

“Let’s say I’m going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or a women’s health appointment,” said Gartland. “There are many legitimate reasons why someone wants to keep that private. They may get dropped off across the street from where they’re going to keep that private.”

EPIC filed a federal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in 2015 where it argued that Uber’s new policy was unfair and deceptive. Gartland said so far it has gotten them nowhere.

“We and other consumer privacy advocates have been asking Uber to go back to the old version of the app and allow people the option to only have their location tracked when the app is in use,” said Gartland.

An Uber spokesperson said the old version created challenges for pick-ups and drop-offs since the company could only track a user’s location when the app was open.

“Collecting this data from when the rider requests a trip until five minutes after the trip has finished will help with ETAs, pick-ups, efficiency on POOL and passenger safety,” said spokesperson Bill Gibbons in a statement. “If riders do not want this data collected they can opt-out and still use our service."

Users who don’t want their information collected by Uber can disable the location services in their phone’s settings and manually input the pick-up spot.

For iOS: in Settings select Privacy, Location Services, Uber and choose “Never”.

For Android: go to Settings, Apps, Uber, Permission and toggle location to “off”.

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