Imagine a world where your smartphone knows exactly where you are, and can share that information with anyone who asks. Now imagine that same world, but it’s not just your phone: your ride sharing service also knows exactly where you are. It may sound like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel or a thriller movie, but unfortunately it’s already happening.
Your smartphone may be tracking your every move.
Your phone is always listening for the wake word, even when you aren’t using it. It’s also sending data to the cloud–even if you have a passcode on your device and use private browsing in Safari, which prevents websites from recording any information about your activities. The same goes for apps that don’t require login info: They can still track your location and habits through other means like GPS or Wi-Fi triangulation.
Even if you have a passcode on your phone (which most people do), it still sends data back to Apple or Google’s servers whenever they’re connected to the Internet–even when Airplane Mode is turned on! Because these companies have access to their own servers as well as third-party providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure Cloud Service (which host websites such as Facebook), anyone with access could theoretically see where all of us are at any given moment in time.
And that could mean there’s a lot more that ride sharing companies know about you than you realize.
Ride sharing companies collect your location data, and that means there’s a lot more that ride sharing companies know about you than you realize.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Uber collects the following information on its users:
- Your current location, even when you’re not using the app.
- The make and model of your phone. This includes its serial number if it’s an iPhone or Android phone.
- How long it takes for your GPS signal to reach their servers after opening the app (this is called “first fix” time). It also tracks how many satellites were used during this process (the number varies depending on where in the world someone lives).
Lyft, Uber, and other ride sharing companies collect information about their users.
Ride sharing companies collect information about their users. They want to know where you’re going and when, how long it takes you to get there, who else is in your car, how often you drive for them and when (even if it’s not a ride), etc. This data is collected and stored so that they can improve the user experience by offering suggestions on routes or times of day that may be more convenient for riders like you. In addition to improving the rider experience though, this information also makes money for Lyft/Uber by allowing advertisers access to targeted audiences through location tracking technology (e.g., knowing which stores are nearby).
But some of that information may be more personal than users realize.
If you’ve ever used a ride-sharing service, then you’re familiar with this scenario: You open the app and request a car. A few minutes later, your driver arrives at your location–but how does he know where to pick you up?
The answer is simple: GPS tracking. All of these companies use GPS data (which is freely available on Google Maps) as part of their operations, which means they’re able to track both your movements and destinations while using their services. In addition to being able to see where riders are going and when they leave certain places, these companies can also figure out how often people take certain routes during different parts of the day–and even whether those routes change depending on what time it is!
If you’re using a ride sharing service, it may be time to take precautions or consider changing services.
If you’re using a ride sharing service, it may be time to take precautions or consider changing services. If you don’t want to use your phone’s GPS and other location-based services, there are options.
If you’re looking for a different type of phone altogether, consider getting one that doesn’t have apps on it at all–or at least not any apps that track your movements or collect data about what websites and apps you use. For example:
Ride sharing companies are becoming increasingly popular, but they also have some serious drawbacks. If you’re using a ride sharing service, it may be time to take precautions or consider changing services.