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Uber pushes privacy for iOS users with location access only when app is in use

After pulling out its controversial post-trip tracking last month, Uber has taken another step to push privacy further, and has updated its iOS app giving users the option of limiting app access to location only when the app is in use, reports The Verge.

Uber has updated its iOS app with options to share location ‘while using the app,’ ‘always,’ and ‘never’ in its location settings. Apparently, the privacy push is a result of Apple’s iOS 11 roll out, which gives users the option of limiting app access to location only when the app is in use, irrespective of developer’s choice.

When the company had ended its post-trip location tracking last month, it has said  that Uber users will soon have the full ability to control how users share location data, and will be able to choose to share location only while using the app. It had also said that the update will be rolled for iOS users starting this week (September first week), and followed by same update for Android users.

Timeline of Uber’s locations tracking

Uber has been in the news earlier for its user’s privacy violations, here is a quick background on the same.

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  • Uber’s location tracking exercises have been happening since 2015, when it first updated the app in July 2015, giving it the ability to track and store user location even after the app is closed manually, and even after disabling GPS settings.
  • And then, a US-based non-profit research firm The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a formal complaint with US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and termed Uber’s location tracking as ‘an unlawful and deceptive trade practice’.
  • Paying heed to the complaint,  Uber signed a settlement with New York State Attorney General in January 2016, promising to encrypt all geo-information and location data while being transferred from user’s phone to Uber’s servers.
  • Later in November 2016,  Uber provided an option for users to manually turn off location sharing after the backlash from critics. But the update only meant that users were forced to choose between allowing Uber to collect location all the time (even after exiting the app), or no location sharing at all.

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