Uber’s surveillance feature tracks your location before and after your ride

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According to Uber, the ridehailing company is trying to improve customer experience with its new location feature, but some riders may not appreciate being surveilled. In May Uber announced it would add rider location tracking and now the service can track riders before and after rides, according to Ars Technica.

With the service enabled, Uber will track your location from the time you originally request a ride until five minutes after the ride ends. The company says the information helps drivers find riders without making phone calls. Uber also uses the information to monitor driver service, making sure, for example, riders are picked up and dropped off on the proper side of the street.

Uber said in a statement, “We’re always thinking about ways we can improve the rider experience from sharpening our ETA estimates to identifying the best pick up location on any given street. Location is at the heart of the Uber experience, and we’re asking riders to provide us with more information to achieve these goals.”

You have control over whether or not you’ll be surveilled, however. So if you don’t want to be tracked and never allow it, Uber won’t track you. A new popup on the Uber app asks, “Allow ‘Uber’ to access our location even when you are not using the app?” The popup explains that from trip request through five minutes after the app will track the rider’s location, even if the app is in the background. You can click “Allow” or “Don’t Allow” in response to the request.

If you do turn on location access and later change your mind, the popup tells you where to find your phone’s device settings to disable surveillance here. With location services disabled, riders will need to enter pickup addresses manually.

If you’re okay with Uber knowing where you are before and for a few minutes after a ride but are concerned about others accessing that data, an agreement Uber made with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman may ease your mind. Under that agreement, Uber protects all rider location data with multi-factor authentication and stores it in an encrypted format.

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