Tag Archive: Uber App



Uber employees used to spy on celebrities, politicians, as well as acquaintances through the company’s tracking data, claims a new lawsuit from the company’s former staff Ward Spangenberg. This is not the first time that the ride service Uber has been accused of sharing location without the permission of the customer, and has said in the past that it will improve security. In 2014, Uber’s General Manager in New York was accused of tracking a journalist’s whereabouts through the company’s “God View” feature.

In the lawsuit, Spangenberg wrote “Uber’s lack of security regarding its customer data was resulting in Uber employees being able to track high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.”

Reveal from The Centre for Investigative Reporting in a report claims that at least five former Uber security employees said the company “continued to allow broad access” even after assurances that it had strict policies in place to prevent customer trip data from being accessed, with “limited exceptions.”
Spangenberg in his lawsuit has also alleged that Uber routinely deleted files which it was required to keep. “Uber routinely deleted files which were subject to litigation holds, which was another practice I objected to when reporting my concerns to the company.”

Sharing his experience when working for Uber, Spangenberg added, “As part of Uber’s Incident Response Team, I would be called when governmental agencies raided Uber’s offices due to concerns regarding noncompliance with governmental regulations. In those instances, Uber would lock down the office and immediately cut all connectivity so that law enforcement could not access Uber’s information. I would then be tasked with purchasing all new equipment for the office within the day, which I did when Uber’s Montreal office was raided.”

Uber in a statement however has assured that it maintains security check of user location data. The company also acknowledged that it fired “fewer than 10” employees for “improper access” of data.

“We have hundreds of security and privacy experts working around the clock to protect our data. This includes enforcing strict policies and technical controls to limit access to user data to authorized employees solely for purposes of their job responsibilities, and all potential violations are quickly and thoroughly investigated,” Uber said in a statement.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

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Uber and Lyft are eviscerating the taxi industry in Los Angeles three years after they began operating in the city, officials say.

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Thanks to the ridesharing services, which enable independent drivers to offer rides via a smartphone application, “taxicab service demand indicators have dropped (total trips and dispatch trips) beginning in the second half of 2013 and increasing through 2015,” according to a report by Department of Transportation seen by AFP on Thursday.

The number of taxi trips arranged in advance has dropped 42 percent while the total number of taxi rides has plunged by a third in the country’s second-largest city, the report said.

“The trips now taken by Uber, Lyft and other types of transportation network company services would likely have the greatest impact on the dispatched taxicab services and other private client taxi orders,” it added.

Uber and Lyft are revolutionizing getting around in Los Angeles, a city famous for its highways where public transportation is widely criticized as inadequate.

Licenced taxi drivers – who must pay to rent their cars and dispatch services and face strict regulations – are struggling to compete with ride-sharing services that are easier and cheaper to use.

They accuse the ridesharing companies of routinely disregarding laws, failing to provide adequate security and being willing to undercut them on wages.

“With the trend of this ‘loss of trips’ the city may need to review some of its regulations,” Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman Bruce Gillman said, adding that the industry is also adapting.

“Taxicab companies are embracing technology for example, developing apps, and have had on-line reservation/dispatching systems for a while,” he said.

Although taxi drivers are earning less, their number in Los Angles has remained constant at almost 2,400, Gillman said, adding that some taxis may not be used as much as before.

Their concerns have spread worldwide as Uber has expanded to hundreds of cities and more than 60 countries, drawing opposition from the taxi industry and regulators and sometimes violent protests.

A court in Buenos Aires on Wednesday ordered Uber to suspend service and launched an inquiry into whether the app poses unfair competition a day after the service began operating in the Argentine capital.

 
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Uber, the smartphone app that connects riders and drivers, launched Tuesday in Buenos Aires without authorization, triggering protests by taxi drivers who blocked major avenues and snarled traffic.

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“The Uber smartphone app will be available as of 4:00 hours today Buenos Aires time, and can be downloaded at the App Store,” the San Francisco-based company said on Twitter.

Although ride-hailing apps have risen rapidly to become a booming industry, they face stiff resistance from traditional taxis and bans over safety concerns and questions about legal issues including taxes.

Taxi drivers often complain that Uber drivers do not pay for permits or taxes; Uber argues it is not a transport company like taxi firms – just an app.

“What they are doing is illegal. They are not delivering transport under existing laws,” Buenos Aires transport chief Juan Jose Mendez told TN television.

The Argentine capital’s sprawl engulfs 13 million people, and millions more commute in and out every day.

The city alone has some 38,000 taxis.

Uber does not employ drivers or own vehicles, but uses private contractors with their own cars instead, allowing them to run their own businesses.

Licensed taxi drivers, who must undergo hundreds of hours of training in some countries, accuse Uber of endangering their jobs by flooding the market with cheaper drivers who need only a GPS to get around.

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Travis Kalanick, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc, failed on Thursday to win the dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit accusing him of scheming to drive up prices for passengers who use the popular ride-sharing service.

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US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said Kalanick must face claims he conspired with drivers to ensure they charge prices set by an algorithm in the Uber smartphone app to hail rides, including “surge pricing” during periods of peak demand.

Passengers led by Spencer Meyer of Connecticut claimed that drivers conspired with Kalanick to charge fares set by the algorithm, with an understanding that other Uber drivers would do the same, even if they might fare better acting on their own.

Rakoff said the plaintiffs “plausibly alleged a conspiracy” to fix prices in this manner, and could also pursue claims that Kalanick’s actions drove out rivals such as Sidecar, enabling Uber to command 80 percent of mobile-app generated ride shares.

“The advancement of technological means for the orchestration of large-scale price-fixing conspiracies need not leave antitrust law behind,” the judge wrote.

Meyer’s lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of Uber passengers nationwide who have used the app and a subclass of passengers subjected to surge pricing.

Uber takes a share of the revenue that drivers generate.

“We disagree with this ruling,” Uber said in response to a request for comment on behalf of Kalanick and the San Francisco-based company. “These claims are unwarranted and have no basis in fact.”

Andrew Schmidt, a lawyer for Meyer, welcomed the decision.

“In creating Uber, Kalanick organised price-fixing among independent drivers who should be competing with one another on price,” he said. “Today’s decision confirms that apps are not exempt from the antitrust laws.”

Uber was not named as a defendant, despite being valued at well over $50 billion in recent funding rounds.

Rakoff said in a footnote that Uber passengers are subject to “user agreements” requiring them to resolve various disputes through arbitration.

He said that while claims in the lawsuit against Kalanick were “intimately founded in and intertwined with” the user agreements, Kalanick had not sought to compel arbitration, and passengers were not barred from suing him in federal court.

The case is Meyer v Kalanick, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-09796.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


After Bengaluru, taxi-hailing app Uber today launched a pilot of its bike sharing product UberMoto in Gurgaon.

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“Uber Tuesday announced a pilot of Uber’s bike sharing product – uberMoto in Gurgaon… This follows our agreement with the government of Haryana to introduce technology based ride-sharing services in the state,” it said in a statement.

The company has set minimum fare at Rs. 15, followed by Rs. 3 per km and Rs. 1 per min of ride-time charges. The minimum fare is Rs. 20. It will compete with companies like Baxi.

“UberMoto works towards the vision of reducing congestion by helping fill every empty seat on the bikes on road. It enables riders to push a button and share a motorbike ride within minutes,” Uber Delhi General Manager Gagan Bhatia said.

It’s a great way for people to save time and money on short trips across town and provides last mile connectivity especially to and from the metro stations, he added.

Also, Uber will not charge any service fee for the duration of this pilot and will submit a key findings report to the Government, analysing the benefits of bike sharing in the city.

The US-based company had launched a pilot for the product in Bengaluru earlier this month but state road authorities had complained that it lacked requisite permissions to offer two-wheeler taxi service.

Uber said it had extensive discussions with the relevant authorities and made modifications to the pilot service.

It had said it will also not charge any service fee for the period of this pilot and was essentially encouraging “bikepooling” aimed at decongesting city roads.

The company will prepare a similar report addressing the viability of the product for Bengaluru as well.

Uber’s rival, Ola had also launched a similar bike-sharing service in Bengaluru. However, following the complaint, the Softbank-backed firm had discontinued the service.

To book a bike ride, users can choose the UberMoto option from the Uber app and enter their pickup location and payment method and request a ride.

Similar to cabs, users will get driver’s details straight like name, photo and details of the motorbike.

Uber’s standard product safety features include GPS tracking, 2-way feedback and the ability to share trip details with family and friends.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Uber will be back in Spain from Wednesday, after regulation and hostility from local taxi firms drove it off the streets at the end of 2014.

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The US company, embroiled in disputes with authorities around the world after a rapid international expansion, said it is launching UberX, which unlike its previous UberPOP service, uses professionally licensed drivers.

Uber’s first attempt drew the ire of traditional taxi drivers and government suspicion, prompting a Spanish judge to rule that it did not comply with the country’s laws and represented unfair competition.

Uber’s ambition to conquer Spain’s taxi market is unchanged, but this time round the firm has opted for a more limited launch, targeting the private hire sector in Madrid, representing only 10 percent of all taxis in the capital city.

But Uber’s director for Southern Europe told Reuters it hopes that with its aggressive prices – they will be 30 percent less than for a standard cab – it will win over consumers and convince politicians to revise Spain’s regulations.

“I think that Spain is ready,” Carles Lloret said in an interview. “(But) there are services which cannot yet be launched because the regulation is not sufficiently agile.”

“We want to be transparent with the government and we want to maintain a very open dialogue to see how we can build a regulatory framework in Spain that makes sense in both a European and a digital context,” he said.

Although Lloret did not reveal the size of Uber’s initial launch, he said it could go on to create 30,000 jobs in Spain if the country’s regulation is changed.

For now, Uber is however not considering expanding into other Spanish cities, and neither will it offer UberPool, for people to share cars, or UberBLACK’s more luxurious offering.

In Barcelona, its food delivery service UberEATS, which was launched last year, closed after only five months.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Taxi-hailing app Ola expects its newly-launched affordable service ‘Micro’ alone to overtake rival Uber in terms of number of rides in a month’s time.

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Engaging in a war of words, the Softbank-backed company claimed that Micro, which is available in seven Indian cities, is on track to match the number of total rides of Uber in India within a month.

“In three weeks, we have put up a category (Ola Micro) which is already 50 percent of all of Uber’s daily bookings in the country. The rate at which Micro is growing, it will be larger than their entire brand within a month,” Ola chief marketing officer and head of categories Raghuvesh Sarup told PTI.

Also, Micro in merely three weeks has achieved the same number of rides what Ola took around three years to achieve, he added.

Ola launched the Micro category a few weeks back, pricing it cheaper than its most affordable ‘Mini’ segment at about Rs. 6 per km.

Micro is available across Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Pune and will be launched in other cities as well, Sarup said.

Interestingly, Uber President Asia Eric Alexander, in an interview, had said the company is on the verge of overtaking Ola in India.

“In January last year, we were at five percent market share. Now, we are right at the edge of 50 percent. Within next 30 days, we would beat them (Ola). We will surpass them very, very shortly,” he had said.

An Uber India spokesperson added that “the growth and momentum is phenomenal. We are incredibly excited to see the progress we are making in India.”

She highlighted that Uber’s most affordable offering UberGO is priced at Rs. 5 per km in several cities like Chandigarh.

Sarup said Ola has achieved a ten-fold growth in the number of rides it performs on a daily basis across categories.

He, however, declined to disclose the number of rides that the Bengaluru-based company completes on a daily basis.

According to sources, Micro already accounts for 20-35 percent of Ola’s own daily booking depending on the city.

“When we design a product, we keep in mind that its achievable and sustainable. It is the most affordable product in the market and it ensures that the driver partners also get more bookings. So, the economics work out,” he added.

Ola claims it holds 75 percent of the Indian app-based taxi-hailing market, with over 3.5 lakh driver partners on its platform across the country.

Asked if the product will compete with its own Mini and autorickshaw categories, Sarup said every segment has a particular use case.

“If you look at Prime, it is targetted at those who want to get work done on the go and there is Wi-Fi made available in the car. Micro, on the other hand, will help us get many first time users who are yet to use our platform,” he said.

Ola’s solutions are ‘Made for India’ and it believes that this country needs hyperlocal, India-specific innovations, he added.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Uber is launching a pilot program intended to help the ride-hailing service’s drivers draw their pay faster, an effort that may also fend off emerging payday lenders who are targeting the service’s drivers.

Uber will allow drivers to deposit their earnings from each ride into an account with GoBank, a subsidiary of the pre-paid debit card company Green Dot. Uber won’t charge any fees for the service, and GoBank will not charge a monthly fee so long as drivers access their accounts at least once every six months. Should it go untouched for longer, drivers would face a monthly fee of $8.95 (roughly Rs. 600).

San Francisco-based Uber pays its drivers once a week, sometimes leading to financial stress for some members of its largely low-to-middle income workforce.

The pilot program, which Uber is launching in San Francisco and a few other cities, is a direct challenge to companies that offer drivers faster payment in exchange for high fees. Drivers have been increasingly vocal about the need for alternatives, Uber executives said.

“Our drivers should not have to pay for this technology,” said Wayne Ting, Uber’s general manager for the San Francisco Bay Area.

The lack of an option at Uber, by far the largest of the ride-hailing app companies, to pay drivers instantly has increasingly resulted in services going into the business of providing cash advances to Uber drivers and other members of the so-called “freelance economy.”

One recently launched service, known as Clearbanc, charges $2 (roughly Rs. 130) a day any time an Uber or Lyft driver wants to have money deposited into a Clearbanc account. If a driver works five days a week and wants to be paid at the end of each shift, Clearbanc’s current fee structure would cost a driver $10 (roughly Rs. 650) a week or roughly $40 (roughly Rs. 2,600) a month. That’s far more than any standard bank account or pre-paid debit card charges.

Uber competitor Lyft recently launched an instant pay program, but it requires drivers to deposit at least $50 (roughly Rs. 3,330) and charges a 50 cent fee for each deposit.

Uber’s program also has the potential to be a large new type of business for Green Dot Corp, which is based in Pasadena, California. Uber has 400,000 active drivers in the US, which could result in a large new swath of customers for Green Dot and millions of dollars in new deposits for Green Dot’s GoBank.

“The on-demand economy is super important for the future of this country, and is the fastest growing part of our economy. It’s what the world is coming to and we wanted to be part of this,” said Steve Streit, CEO of Green Dot.

Streit said Green Dot and GoBank will be looking at establishing partnerships with other companies like Uber. If the program is successful, Uber will expand it to other cities, Ting said.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


A Florida city is testing whether it can save millions of dollars in road-building and other public transportation expenses by subsidizing the cost of rides with Uber Technologies Inc.

Altamonte Springs, an Orlando suburb, on March 21 will become the nation’s first city to pay a portion of the fare for all trips with Uber within its limits, according to Christine Mitchell, Uber’s general manager in Central Florida.

The goal is to integrate the on-demand ride service into the transportation network, get cars off the road and induce people to use mass transit such as SunRail, the two-year-old regional commuter train, said city manager Frank Martz.

Altamonte Springs has budgeted $500,000, partly from local businesses, for a year-long study during which it will pick up 20 percent of all Uber rides in city limits, and 25 percent for those to or from its SunRail station.

“It is infinitely cheaper than the alternatives,” said Martz, whose city has a population of about 43,000 and median income of $50,000. “A mile of road costs tens of millions of dollars. You can operate this for decades on $10 million.”

Some economics and public policy experts who study Uber disagree.

“I see this plan as blowing (the city’s) budget out of the water,” said Joann Weiner, director of the master’s programme in applied economics at George Washington University.

Subsidies usually cause costs to increase because someone else is picking up part of the tab, she said. The city’s budget also may not account for rider demand.

The other big question is public acceptance.

Martz said suburban sprawl in Florida has made transportation solutions like bus routes inefficient and unaffordable. He believes cheaper Uber rides also will help those who need public transportation to reach available bus and rail services.

However, advocates for the homeless and poor who rely on buses say this will not help them.

Andrae Bailey, chief executive for the Central Florida Commission on Homeless, argued that the homeless and poor who rely on city buses typically don’t benefit from technological solutions because they don’t have easy internet access.”

Lyft, Uber’s largest ride-hailing competitor in the United States, is also in negotiations with transit agencies about subsidies for Lyft rides, said Emily Castor, Lyft director of transportation policy. She did not provide the names.

If the city decides to continue the service, Martz said the contract will be open to other bidders.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Uber said Monday it was devastated by a deadly shooting spree by one of its drivers but had no plans to change its background check methods.

In a phone briefing with reporters, Uber expressed confidence in how well it probes whether aspiring drivers have pasts that signal trouble ahead.

Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan said the ride-sharing company was “devastated” and has been working “around the clock” with police since Saturday night’s killing spree in Kalamazoo in the US state of Michigan.

“No background check process would have made a difference in this case because he did not have a criminal history,” Sullivan said during a media conference call.

“If there is nothing on someone’s record, a background check is not going to raise a flag.”

Suspect Jason Brian Dalton, 45, sat stony-faced in an orange prison jumpsuit, thick glasses shielding his downcast eyes, as a judge on Monday read the charges against him in a Kalamazoo court. Dalton appeared via video conference from the jail.

Dalton was formally charged with six counts of murder after he allegedly went on the weekend killing spree possibly picking up passengers along the way.

Prosecutors said they were still trying to determine why Dalton began firing seemingly at random as he drove through Kalamazoo.

4.73-star rating
Kalamazoo’s public security chief described Dalton, a former insurance adjuster, as “an average Joe” who had no criminal record and had not come to the attention of law enforcement before the murders.

Dalton cleared a background check to become an Uber driver on January 25, and was at the wheel for slightly more than 100 trips by users of the smartphone-based ride-sharing service during the following weeks, according to Uber.

Dalton had a rating of 4.73 based on a five-star system that passengers use to rate Uber drivers and “generally speaking” had received favorable reviews, Sullivan said.

Uber got some complaints on Saturday, and earlier, about Dalton’s driving but nothing regarding violence or weapons, according to the San Francisco-based company.

Uber automatically suspends drivers after accusations of violence, but opts to discuss driving gripes because “we get a lot of complaints about bad driving and they are not all accurate,” Sullivan said.

Uber did not see a need to modify its driver security screening process.

‘Extremely safe’ system
While Uber does not have fingerprints of aspiring drivers checked against US criminal databases, it obtains extensive personal information including social security numbers to dig into records on local, county and national levels, according to the company.

“When it comes to understanding what criminal record someone has, we think we do a pretty good job,” Sullivan said of Uber background checks, which involve going to courthouses and digging through files by hand if they are not available online.

Uber can also assess drivers with help of rider reviews and GPS tracking of each trip.

“As it stands right now, the system that Uber has is extremely safe,” said Uber safety advisory board member Ed Davis, whose 35-year career in US law enforcement included serving as Boston police commissioner.

“A background check is just that; it does not foresee the future. After an incident like this, we all struggle for answers.”

No US ‘panic button’
Uber also said it did not plan to bring to the US a “panic button” being tested in the company’s smartphone application in India to let riders quickly connect with police.

“People with smartphones here could just call 911,” Sullivan said, referring to a special number that connects callers directly with police dispatchers.

“We can’t hope to compete with that.”

Uber shrugged off questions related to why the shooting spree made the firm a target for scrutiny instead of Dalton’s prior employer or even the accused killer’s ability to get a gun.

“I do think the fact that Uber is a technology company and a company that has been expanding so rapidly has made more of the media attention directed on Uber,” said Uber safety advisory board member Margaret Richardson, a former advisor in the office of the US Attorney General.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)