Uber today announced that it will begin rolling out a simplified way for users to permanently delete their personal information from the app over the next few weeks (via The Verge). The news follows a few months of protests against the company that included Uber's perceived opportunistic business tactics during the immigration airport protests in January, the questionable actions of CEO Travis Kalanick, and the app's location sharing practices.
Prior to the update, users could delete the app from their phone, but any data Uber had obtained from its users would remain on its servers unless customers personally emailed or called the company's support team. Now, users will be able to go through this process within the app itself thanks to a new "Delete Your Account" screen, which will immediately deactivate user accounts and then permanently delete everything after 30 days.
Uber said this protracted deletion period is a way for users to reverse their decision if they change their minds. Data deleted will also affect any information that was entered in Uber's food-related spin-off app, UberEats.
Late last year and early in 2017, Uber faced a series of backlashes from the public related to the app's tracking of user data up to five minutes after a trip ends, as well as multiple reports related to Kalanick and his relationship with President Donald Trump. Uber claims that the new account deletion update isn't in response to any of those previous reports, and that it's been in the works "for more than a year."
Uber insists today’s changes aren’t a response to those campaigns. A spokesperson said today’s release has been scheduled for several months, and the changes have been in the works for even longer. “We’ve been working on improving this [account deletion] experience for more than a year,” said an Uber spokesperson.
The update will also include more customizable notification settings, as well as a few tweaks to location sharing settings when friends ask to hail a ride from where you're located. The actual main location sharing feature is still a black and white choice, so users who opt-out will have to manually enter their location each time they want to request a ride.
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