Uber is investigating its New York general manager Josh Mohrer for tracking a BuzzFeed reporter’s location without her permission, BuzzFeed reported Tuesday night.
Earlier this month, Bhuiyan arrived at Uber’s Long Island City offices in an Uber vehicle for an interview with Mohrer, according to BuzzFeed. When she arrived, Mohrer was waiting for her. Holding his iPhone, he said: “There you are. I was tracking you.”
Additionally, to answer questions Bhuiyan had about Lyft, an Uber competitor, Mohrer emailed Bhuiyan logs of her Uber rides. Mohrer did not ask for Bhuiyan’s permission before accessing that information, BuzzFeed reports.
God View is an internal tool that allows corporate Uber employees to track the whereabouts of customers as they travel in Uber vehicles. From BuzzFeed:
Tracking customers is easy using an internal company tool called ‘God View,’ two former Uber employees told BuzzFeed News. They said God View, which shows the location of Uber vehicles and customers who have requested a car, was widely available to corporate employees. Drivers, who operate as contractors, do not have access to God View.
The former employees BuzzFeed talked to said God View was “easily accessible” across the company, but neither employee was said to have witnessed the tool being used improperly by others at Uber.
This isn’t the first time Uber’s God View tool has made the news. In September, a venture capitalist named Peter Sims wrote a post on Medium called “Can We Trust Uber?“
Sims says three years ago he was taking an Uber SUV through Manhattan when an acquaintance texted and asked whether he was in an Uber vehicle at 33th and 5th. He confirmed that he was, and the acquaintance later revealed she was at an Uber Chicago launch, and at the party Uber had a screen showing where certain people in New York were riding around in Uber vehicles.
Legitimate business purposes include, according to Uber’s blog post:
Supporting riders and drivers in order to solve problems brought to their attention by the Uber community.
Facilitating payment transactions for drivers.
Monitoring driver and rider accounts for fraudulent activity, including terminating fake accounts and following up on stolen credit-card reports.
Reviewing specific rider or driver accounts in order to troubleshoot bugs.
San Francisco magazine reporter Ellen Cushing was warned by Uber employees that the company could look at her rider logs, she reported Tuesday.
On Monday, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith reported that Emil Michael, Uber’s SVP of business, suggested the company hire an oppositional research team to dig up dirt on journalists critical of the company. Michael made the comments at a dinner party that Smith had been invited to.
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