While it is virtually unknown in many parts of Europe, Uber[1] has become a household name in the US as well as many countries in Western Europe. A dynamic, hip company, ready to break established patterns, bring solutions that are innovative, community building, and flout conventions.

Hence the surprise, when some time ago the online community begun discussing – and some frothing at the mouth – about Uber’s casual disregard for privacy[2]. In short, it seems that on at least occasion, Uber’s executives hyped their cab-sharing product by providing party guests with access to the location and identity of several well-known people using the Uber app.

Following the disclosure – and some half-hearted admissions[3], - Uber’s officials choose not to comment. However, one cannot refrain to muse about what this means for us and for the future.

After many cases of illegal – or not-quite-illegal – use of personal data, there are rather stringent regulations in place in most of the civilised world. We more or less take it for granted that companies are sufficiently stymied not to attempt misusing our data, even if we provided it voluntarily. Uber’s case however points to a worrying eventuality.

Back when, Orwell and many others wrote about the omniscient state, always watching, always intervening. When the surveillance cameras begun spreading in the UK, people started to voice their fears, that the world was headed in that direction, only to have officials assuage those fears by pointing out the numerous physical and regulatory safeguards in place. When the US large-scale use of drones became known, the same explanations were furbished. What about today, when private companies proved themselves able to monitor and record one’s activities and, furthermore, prove themselves willing to flaunt said ability in front of dinner guests?

That great man, Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1755, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Perhaps it would be time to give up a little security, so that we secured ourselves a bit more liberty ...


[1] Uber, Inc homepage last accessed Nov 21, 2014

[2] Peter SIMSIE, „Can We Trust Uber? A great, long-lived brand begins and ends with trust”, at the Internet address, last accessed Nov 21, 2014

[3] Kashmir HILL: „'God View': Uber Allegedly Stalked Users For Party-Goers' Viewing Pleasure”, Forbes,  at the Internet address, last accessed Nov 21, 2014

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