Nobody likes to think their data is being harvested by a third party company, but now in the wake of Cambridge Analytica's expose with Facebook, we find that Uber have been collating data from its users for many years.
In a bid to curry favour with the licensing authority after the rejection of their licence application to continue in London....Uber are offering to grant TfL access to the wealth of data it holds on the capital’s transport networks.
This is the latest conciliatory step the $80bn (£57bn) app has taken since it was stripped of its London licence six months ago following a string of alleged illegal activities and safety failings, including failing to report drivers to police after complaints of rape and sexual assault, allowing the predator drivers to strike again and again.
Uber said the data, which covers 50,000 drivers in the capital, could be used to help urban planning as London groans under the weight of the growing congestion blamed on internet shopping delivery vans, ride share apps and segregated bicycle lanes.
Since being stripped of its licence back in September last year and ousting its founder Travis Kalanick in the summer, Uber purports to have launched a series of bids to clean up its act, including capping drivers’ working hours and cracking down on drivers using the app in cities where they are not licensed.
Unfortunately the geofencing they say they've imposed, isn't strictly based on the boundaries of the Greater Metropolitan area of their licence. Corridors have been added which extend to places such as Gatwick, Luton, Stanstread and Southend Airports.
Uber Britannia Limited's app tracks millions of journeys via smartphone GPS sensors, which the company says gives it a unique perspective on driving patterns in cities. It's also been alleged that Uber have carried on tracking celebrity customers after the journey's completion.
Uber's peace offering say's their data will show regulators how journey times change at different times and days, as well as seeing how one-off events such as bridge closures have affected travel times.
The company's replacement for Jo Bertram, Fred Jones said: “Under Uber’s new leadership we want to be a better partner to city planners and regulators.” Well they would say that, they want their licence renewed. Uber have always had the policy, 'it's easier to seek forgiveness than permission'.
A TfL spokesman said: “We welcome any move that has the potential to provide a greater insight into how people move around London.”
Uber will continue to operate in the capital while it challenges the ban. The appeal is due to be heard in June and may be dragged out for years if the company continues to fight through the courts.
Even though TfL are in possession of evidence that would see Uber closed down completely, their legal team don't appear to have the appetite to take on the £57bn company, with latest discretions swept under the carpet and kept out of the media.
Uber have said they would prefer to reach an agreement with Tfl instead of fighting through the courts, and last year they flew their new chief executive (Dara Khosrowshahi) to London for cosy talks with TfL commissioner Mike Brown.