Uber, like the Trump Administration or United Airlines, is not a stranger to controversy. The last couple of years haven’t been good to the rise-sharing company. Everything from hostile work environments, capitalizing on protests and revolving door for executives, it seems like Uber cannot catch a break if the report from the New York Times is any indication.
According to the report, it seems that Apple’s Tim Cook had called in Uber’s Travis Kalanick to threaten to remove their Uber app from Apple’s App Store for violating iOS app privacy guidelines. Apple, according to the report, claimed that Uber was “fingerprinting” iPhones with permanent identities and could keep track of them even after the app was deleted or if the iPhone in question was entirely wiped.
Uber claims that the tracking was done to prevent drivers from cheating by creating fake accounts and accept rides from bogus drivers. The company claims this was a way to keep drivers honest. Although it is unclear how they managed to do this last part but they managed to hide the tracking from App Store reviewers.
While Apple has not comment, and most likely never will, on the story. Engadget did reach out to Uber and they provided this statement to the site:
“We absolutely do not track individual users or their location if they’ve deleted the app. As the New York Times story notes towards the very end, this is a typical way to prevent fraudsters from loading Uber onto a stolen phone, putting in a stolen credit card, taking an expensive ride and then wiping the phone—over and over again. Similar techniques are also used for detecting and blocking suspicious logins to protect our users’ accounts. Being able to recognize known bad actors when they try to get back onto our network is an important security measure for both Uber and our users.”
Now, Uber may not be lying at this point. Given that the meeting between the two companies occurred back in early 2015. Since they were discovered, they could have removed the tracking (or at least altered it) and their current statement is accurate. However, given Uber’s propensity for pushing the limits I have my doubts that Uber never did such a thing.