Uber Faces Charges of Spying on Celebs, Politicos, Just Before it was Looking Ripe for IPO in 2017

- December 27th, 2016

Uber is facing serious charges over allegations of its employees misusing the “God View” tool of the company to spy on high profile politicians, personal acquaintances and popular celebrities, including Pop singer Beyoncé.

Uber is facing serious charges over allegations of its employees misusing the “God View” tool of the company to spy on high profile politicians, personal acquaintances and popular celebrities, including Pop singer Beyoncé.
Uber employees have been regularly misusing the “God View” tool to spy on the movement of their personal acquaintances including ex-girlfriends/boyfriends and ex-spouses, celebrities and politicians, as per the testimony provided by Samuel Ward Spangenberg, former forensic investigator of Uber. He also confirmed that even famous Pop singer Beyoncé’s account was getting monitored continuously.
Spangenberg claims that Uber fired him after he raised concerns over the ethical breaches and security issues within the company. He has made a court declaration during October accusing Uber for the misuse of personal information of its customers by employees to help men stalk their ex-girlfriends and to keep track of movements of celebrities like Beyoncé. He has raised these security concerns previously to the top executives of Uber including Andrew Wegley, chief HR and John Flynn, Head of Information security at Uber. But the company fired him within a year as they were not happy with his concerns and now Spangenberg is suing Uber for whistle-blower retaliation and age discrimination as per his court declaration in October.


His allegations were reported by CIR’s (Centre of Investigative Reporting) Reveal project and this is not the first time Uber is being accused of violating customer privacy and mishandling their data. Even in 2014, there were reports in Buzzfeed about misuse of the “God View” tool to track a reporter’s journey as per information given by Uber’s general manager at New York.
Spangenberg stated in his testimony given under penalty of perjury that there were lot of security vulnerabilities within Uber and they did not follow standard security protocols diligently. They also deleted files which they were legally obligated to maintain, remotely encrypted their computers and shut down their offices during Government raids in order to prevent authorities from obtaining any information. According to Spangenberg, the personal information of customers and drivers were stored in an insecure manner by Uber and they failed to follow a strict vulnerability management policy.
The news has just popped up after Uber updated its App recently to increase the amount of location details collected about its customers. The new Uber App will continue to share customer’s location for 5 minutes after they are dropped off even after exiting the App. Uber says it has brought this change to improve the pick-ups and drop-offs, but its facing backlash from the users about rising security and privacy concerns. Though Spangenberg raised his voice multiple times against these illegal practices and ethical breaches, Uber executives never took any action to protect their customer data. Hence he filed a lawsuit against Uber for whistle-blower retaliation and age discrimination at the Superior Court of California.
Uber was founded in March 2009 and is looking to go for an IPO (Initial Public Offering) in early 2017. The company, which is largely funded by private investors, has been valued at $69 billion by market experts. According to Blomberg reports, Uber’s revenue for the first half of 2016 was around $2.06 billion. The recent negative reviews surrounding Uber over privacy concerns of customers could take a big hit on its IPO.
 
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Securities Disclosure: I, Prashant Sharma, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in contributed article. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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