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Uber's bad behaviour shows the importance of keeping your data private and secure.

Uber's bad behaviour shows the importance of keeping your data private and secure.

Once again the importance of data protection is highlighted by a scandal in the news, as ride-sharing company Uber is caught out buying data about customers who use its competitor, Lyft. What does Uber's latest fiasco show us about the need for secure, private communication?

Uber and Unroll.me collude to gather Lyft users' data

As the New York Times reports, Uber has been aggressively targeting their competitor Lyft, and recently it went as far as buying data from the analytics service Slice Intelligence. Via its email digest service Unroll.me, Slice Intelligence has been collecting data on its users' Lyft receipts, and passing this information (in an anonymous form) to Uber.

Most Unroll.me users are probably not aware of the service's data-mining practices.

As Sam Biddle writes for The Intercept, most Unroll.me users are probably not aware of the service's data-mining practices, and almost certainly wouldn't be comfortable with it. While Unroll.me hasn't publicly admitted selling data to Uber, its CEO, Jojo Hedaya, made a general apology to its users for not being clear enough about the service's terms of use.

A history of disrespect - Uber's ongoing data manipulation

This isn't the first example of Uber using private data in an attempt to gain the upper hand over Lyft. Between 2014 and 2016, Uber used a piece of software known as 'Hell' to identify and track Lyft drivers, working out who was driving for both companies and trying to lure them away from Lyft, a recent lawsuit alleges. As the Guardian reports, the lawsuit has been filed by an ex-Lyft driver, who says that Uber's actions were an unlawful invasion of privacy.

In 2015, Apple threatened Uber with removal from their App Store because Uber had apparently been using a feature hidden in their app that tagged and tracked iPhone users - even after the Uber app had been deleted, CNET reports. Faced with the threat of losing a huge chunk of their audience, Uber conceded to Apple's demands and removed the feature, but the surrounding publicity has taken a toll on the company's reputation.

Uber has a history of taking advantage of private data.Uber has a history of taking advantage of private data.

Uber has shown itself to be somewhat hypocritical when it comes to sharing data. As Bloomberg reported earlier this year, Uber has been fighting against pressure from New York City to share data on its drivers' movements around the city (that New York City says it needs to help fight driver fatigue and overwork). But the company sees no problem in buying information on potential users - or stealing it, for that matter.

The importance of data privacy

Where the Unroll.me scandal differs from Uber's previous acts of disrespect is their use of people's email providers to get at data. It shows the trust people place in companies that have access to their private communications, and how easy it is for those companies to abuse it.

Uber's exploitation of its customers is yet another example of the need for secure, private messaging.

Uber and Unroll.me's exploitation of their customers is yet another example of the urgent need for secure, private messaging. Using a dedicated encrypted communication app hides your data from everyone except those you choose to share it with.

SafeSwiss' encryption app not only protects you from malicious third parties that want to get access to your data for their own gain. It also removes any concerns you may have about communication providers themselves taking advantage of your trust. Our encryption app creates an 'encrypted private network' between you and whoever you want to communicate with. The point-to-point encryption between sender and receiver hides your data from outsiders - and it also hides it from us. We won't sell your information to Uber, and we couldn't even if we wanted to. Check out our free app for a communication option you can trust.

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