In an effort to better protect user privacy and improve its image, Uber has decided to remove a background GPS tracking feature that allows riders to be tracked for up to five minutes after a ride ends, reports Reuters.
Uber is expected to announce the privacy change starting on Tuesday, with the update expected to roll out to iPhone users this week. The same update will be made to Android devices in the future.
The feature, which was first introduced in late 2016, has garnered a lot of criticism from Uber users. When location tracking is enabled for the Uber app (and location services is required for the app to properly function) Uber is able to collect location data from the time of a trip request through five minutes after the trip ends, even when the app is in the background.
Uber says it planned to use the extra location data to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance customer service, but the company claims the post-trip tracking feature was never actually turned on for iPhone users.
In an interview with Reuters, Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan said the update is unrelated to recent internal turmoil within the company, which saw Uber CEO Travis Kalanick ousted from the company.
“We’ve been building through the turmoil and challenges because we already had our mandate,” said Sullivan, who is a member of the executive leadership team that has been co-running Uber since Kalanick left in June.
Sullivan went on to say that the company should not have asked Uber users for more information without providing details on the value of the feature. Should Uber re-enable the feature in the future, he says the company will let customers opt in and better explain why the feature is useful.
According to Sullivan, Uber is committed to user privacy, but has suffered from a “lack of expertise.” Additional changes to improve privacy, security, and transparency at Uber are said to be in the works and coming in future updates.