Uber Employees Allegedly Use Data to Stalk Exes, Celebs

Former employees warn of less-than-secure customer data
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2016 4:01 PM CST
Lawsuit: Uber Employees Use Data to Stalk Celebs, Exes
A former employee claims Uber workers used customer data to digitally stalk exes and celebs.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Uber employees are being accused of using customer data to track "high profile politicians, celebrities, and even ... ex-boyfriends/girlfriends and ex-spouses," NBC News reports. That quote comes from a lawsuit filed by Ward Spangenberg in October but first reported by Reveal this week. The former forensic investigator at Uber is accusing the ride-sharing company of a multitude of things, including age discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and encrypting data to keep authorities from seeing it. Spangenberg claims he was fired after objecting to Uber practices he considered "reckless and illegal." But perhaps of most concern to customers is Uber's alleged handling of their data.

Five former Uber security professionals tell Reveal that Uber employees have "broad access" to customer data. “When I was at the company, you could stalk an ex or look up anyone’s ride with the flimsiest of justifications,” a former senior security engineer says. “It didn’t require anyone’s approval.” Uber responds that it's "absolutely untrue that 'all' or 'nearly all' employees have access to customer data," though it adds "fewer than 10" employees have been fired for abusing the ride-tracking "Heaven View" (formerly "God View") tool, the Guardian reports. It says employees need access to that tool for things like refunds and accident investigations. The company says it now flags any Heaven View searches for "MVP" customers, such as celebrities. (More Uber stories.)

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