Following report that Uber has partaken in some questionable practices, including tracking users after they deleted the Uber app, Congress and federal regulators are considering investigations into the company, according to a report from the Hill.
Lawmakers in Washington are reportedly calling for hearings to examine Uber’s potentially invasive practices, and more broadly explore the privacy practices of the technology industry as a whole.
The newfound interest in Uber and the way tech companies handle user data stems from the revelations of a New York Times report that included an anecdote about Uber intentionally breaking rules put in place by Apple to track users even after they had deleted the company’s app.
That type of user tracking, which the company utilized in 2015, nearly resulted in Uber getting kicked out of the Apple App Store. Since then, the company has reined in that particular tracking effort but not its larger, dubious practices.
Uber purchased data from a third-party company to try to track the growth of Lyft, its biggest competitor in the ride-hailing space. Uber also tapped some of its engineers to work on a program called “Hell” that allowed the company to track Lyft drivers in a city and determine if drivers were working for both Uber and its rival.
Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commision over Uber’s practices, which the group claims are unfair and deceptive.
That complaint, combined with the high-profile stories detailing Uber’s questionable practices, has led to a number of lawmakers suggesting it may be time to take a closer look at how tech companies handle user data.
Joe Barton (R-Texas) told the Hill Uber’s behavior is “an example of why we need to move a major privacy bill.”
Barton, the founder of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, has support across the aisle as well. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) suggested the reports could create a public outcry that may lead to an investigation.
The threat of a Congressional hearings is just the latest in a long line of issues that have hit Uber in recent months, including accusations of sexual harassment within the workplace and a lawsuit that purports the company stole its autonomous technology from Google-owned startup Waymo.
While the practice of tracking users after they deleted the Uber app is what sparked the latest controversy for the company, it has finally given users a way to delete their account if they no longer want to use the service.
Uber announced Friday that it will be introducing a new feature that will allow users to wipe their entire account, including data associated with the account. Users will be able to choose to delete their account, which will set off a 30-day countdown clock. After 30 days has elapsed, the app and all data will be deleted.