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August 29, 2017

Uber updates user data privacy feature, launches program benefiting Penn riders

With the announcement of Dara Khosrowshahi as Uber’s new CEO after months of controversy surrounding both the company and former CEO Travis Kalanick, new changes to the ride-sharing app are underway both locally and in the big picture.

Late last year, Uber altered its privacy default, tracking Uber users’ and drivers’ locations even after their trip had ended. Reuters reported the change will be introduced to iPhones starting this week, with the change later slated for Android phones.

This update occurs just two weeks after Uber settled major privacy allegations regarding the feature, which put Uber at fault for misrepresenting how the personal information of users and drivers was used, as well as misrepresenting the security parameters surrounding that data.

At the time of the feature's rollout, users had to choose between either allowing Uber to track their location at all times, even when they weren’t using the app, or to manually input their pickup location when requesting a ride.

Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Uber, told Reuters that the update is unrelated to the internal company changes.

“We’ve been building through the turmoil and challenges because we already had our mandate,” Sullivan told Reuters.

Meanwhile, as Uber riders can expect to see the update on their phones soon, the company is starting a new program with the University of Pennsylvania in an attempt to make campus travels easier for Penn students, staff and faculty.

Uber and Penn will establish a pickup area at The Palestra, the University City basketball arena, as well as improve pickups for other busy places on the Penn campus. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, The Palestra pickup area will be designated specifically in the app. 

Penn has launched similar relationships to make campus travels easier and safer. Last December, in a collaboration with SEPTA, the campus opened a SEPTA Travel Center in the Penn Bookstore to help students figure out how to get around locally or in the tri-state area.  

To commemorate the new partnership, there's another sweet deal for Penn students this week. Now through Sept. 3, UberPOOL rides around campus will cost Penn affiliates only $0.99.