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Transportation Businesses Privacy Software

Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data 120

Presto Vivace sends news that Uber has entered into a partnership with Starwood Hotels that hooks accounts from both companies together. If you're a customer of both, you'll get a small benefit when chartering Uber rides, but the cost is that Uber will share all their data on you with Starwood. The article says, This year, we are going to see the transformation of Uber into a big data company cut from the same cloth as Google, Facebook and Visa – using the wealth of information they know about me and you to deliver new services and generate revenue by selling this data to others. ... Uber can run the same program with airlines, restaurants, nightclubs, bars – every time you go from point A to point B in an Uber, “A”, “B” or both represent a new potential consumer of your data. ... Uber knows the hot nightclubs, best restaurants and most obviously now has as much data about traffic patterns as Waze (which coincidentally trades data with local governments). Combining Uber’s data with the very-personal data that customers are willing to give up in exchange for benefits, means that Uber can, and is, on its way to becoming a Big Data company.
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Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @04:19AM (#49334203) Journal
    Remember back when Uber's big privacy problem was 'God View [slashdot.org]?

    Well, they promised to cut back their sleazebag executives' personal access to that. They might even have been not-lying. Unfortunately, that just meant that they were growing up, and moving into the big-kid leagues of privacy violation. As I said then:

    "So, in a predictable (honestly, surprising they made it to this market cap without doing it already) part of the maturation process; Uber is claiming that they'll rein in discretionary access to personal information by their frat-bro-asshole management, and instead put full database access to all the data ever in the hands of their advertising and customer analytics weasels.

    That's the unpleasant flip side to a story like this. Yes, as it happens, Uber has some of the most punchable management shitweasels one could ask for. The very idea of one of them using 'god view' on you makes you want to take a hot shower and scrub yourself until the uncleanness is gone. However, while opportunistic assholerly is repulsive, it is also unsystematic. Once they grow up a bit, and put those data into the hands of solid, value-rational, systematic, people who aim to squeeze every drop of value out of it, then you are really screwed."

    Well, there we are: 'turning into a big data company' is pretty much the thermonuclear option when it comes to customer privacy; more or less the most invasive thing we yet have the technology to make cost effective. It'll take some real innovating for them to dig deeper.
    • by auric_dude ( 610172 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @04:24AM (#49334213)
      Once again you are the product.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        and you don't get a dime for it.

        • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @04:43AM (#49334265)

          So, in essence, you become the cheapest possible whore.

          • Google and FaceBook give you "free" services but take it out of your ass. So yes, you're whoring yourself out to them for cheap.

            But with Uber you're still paying for the service. They're not going to start giving you free rides in exchange for mining your data. So you're still getting fucked, but you're paying them for the privilege. That's not a john, either. The john pays for it, but he wants the fuckening.

            Is there a word for that even? Where you pay somebody and they unwelcomingly shag you? Only thing I

            • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @09:48AM (#49335623) Journal

              Is there a word for that even? Where you pay somebody and they unwelcomingly shag you? Only thing I can think of is "taxpayer."

              Nah. I don't know your situation but I get, or have received; roads, schools, fire protection, cheap food, clean water (unheard of in many places in the world), airports, railway travel, national parks, national forests, state forests, public parks, heavily subsidized university education, cleaner air, cleaner water, and public libraries. By pooling my tax money with others I we use our combined cash to create a civilization. Which is why I hate tax cheats and dodgers, they are parasites.

              • Far more of your money is wasted by pork than tax cheats and dodges.... By sheer numbers your hate should be directed at federal pensions and military spending, not people trying to avoid paying for all the pork. From my perspective, you are looking at the wrong side of the equation.
                • by dave420 ( 699308 )
                  The problem is you can't avoid paying for the pork without avoiding paying for the essential. The more mature way of dealing with that situation would be to keep paying, but change the system. If you can't change the system, giving up and not paying makes you lazy, not part of the solution.
              • roads

                Awful and getting worse.

                schools

                !!

                fire protection

                I'm with you on this one. So that's one thing the Romans have done for us.

                cheap food

                Ugh. The Future Of Food, pls. srsly.

                clean water

                Frack that...

                airports

                Complete with institutionalized sexual abuse

                railway travel

                There would be more, but the government allowed the automobile companies to buy up and shut down profitable railway and streetcar lines to quell competition.

                national parks, national forests, state forests

                They spent more preventing people from going there during the "shutdown" than it costs to keep them open. And don't get me started on mismanagement of BLM land, w

                • by plopez ( 54068 )

                  Most of what you complain about is due to insufficient tax revenue or due to Congressional attempts to actually interfere with good governance and good stewardship. As the other poster said, move to a country without a strong government such as Somalia or Mexico. Just watch out for the gangs, militias and death squads. A few taxes are a low price to pay for the benefits of civilization.

                  • Most of what you complain about is due to insufficient tax revenue

                    BAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                    We have enough money to fuck with other nations' politics, bomb brown people, and build jets that nobody needs. You're full of shit.

          • by plopez ( 54068 )

            And they don't even kiss you first.

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @05:36AM (#49334351)

          and you don't get a dime for it.

          Yes you do. You get discounts on other goods and services. Plus it is opt in, so if you don't want them to share your data then don't opt in.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Heh, it's opt in for now. Already people don't like this, so it's only opt in at first. Maybe opt out next, and then there is no choice.

            • Already people don't like this

              People don't like it because they didn't RTFA, and are basing their opinion on the idiotic misleading summary, and the knee jerk comments written by people that didn't RTFA either.

              • by bulled ( 956533 )
                And how is Uber to work for?

                Is it knee jerk, or is it watching what other companies have done and seeing the inevitable path that a company run by, as another poster put it, some of the most punchable management shitweasels will take in the name of shareholder value?
                • Is it knee jerk, or is it watching what other companies have done ...?

                  Why should you be outraged at Uber because of what other companies have done? Uber is doing nothing wrong here. They are not sharing any data without explicit, informed consent. If other companies are not doing that, shouldn't you be outraged at them? If you really, really want to be outraged at Uber, because of something they might theoretically do someday, wouldn't it make sense to wait until you have an actual reason? The world has lots of actual problems. Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on on

                  • Easy, because Uber didn't invent these concepts. They are a me too company in the datamining space trying to follow the herd. So we *know* how this is going to end by looking at how other companies behave. Grow up.
                • by dave420 ( 699308 )
                  It's a knee-jerk reaction because you are assuming what Uber will do without any evidence beyond the actions of others. I doubt you'd like being judged by the actions of other people as it would probably be highly inaccurate judgement - the exact same logic applies here. Screaming and sobbing about some slippery slope or the actions of other companies isn't helping anyone, let alone you.
                  • by bulled ( 956533 )

                    It's a knee-jerk reaction because you are assuming what Uber will do without any evidence beyond the actions of others. I doubt you'd like being judged by the actions of other people as it would probably be highly inaccurate judgement - the exact same logic applies here.

                    And yet this is largely how the world works. Good on you if you can completely avoid judging others based on what you have seen entities "like" them do in the past.

                    Screaming and sobbing about some slippery slope or the actions of other companies isn't helping anyone, let alone you.

                    Because there is so much screaming and sobbing here. Commenters are simply pointing out that given shareholders, you should expect the company to run rough shod over user privacy if it is profitable. Lying to yourself about this fundamental truth isn't helping anyone, let alone you.

            • Heh, it's opt in for now.

              Unless Uber achieve actual, literal, world domination, using Uber will always be opt-in.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Opt in, like the conduit.com PUP-ware that comes with Windows downloads and may or may not give you a checkbox to say "no"?

            Opt in like the advertising trackers in a phone that require root or a custom ROM to get rid of?

            Opt in like Verizon's tagging of every HTTP request with a custom identifier that marks you regardless of privacy settings?

            Opt in like how FB posts get graded and you get assigned a "credit score" where if you make a crack about "press 1 for English", you get flagged to potential employers as

          • by plopez ( 54068 )

            "You get discounts on other goods and services."

            So that is what you call CEO perks, bonuses, and severance pay.....

      • by cinky ( 2632165 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @06:43AM (#49334549)
        and I get that when it comes to google - I get to use their services for "free". But I pay uber and many other companies for their services and I feel I'm entitled to privacy of data they have about me...
      • No, he's not. He's a bystander in the deal between Uber and the advertisers. As a bystander, he can do whatever he wants. If he decides to shit all over the data Uber intend to sell the advertisers, that's fine. If he decides to sue the advertisers for wrongful access to his data, that's fine. If he decides to sue Uber for privacy violations, that's fine too. Basically, the sky's the limit, since Uber are illegally misusing his data (at least in the EU - where companies are only allowed to use personal data
    • This is not what big data is, this is just selling customers' information. And Google, despite being listed in the summary, never does it BTW.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And Google, despite being listed in the summary, never does it BTW.

        I have never heard of them doing it. But why would they? They are the end users of it for their advertising. Businesses go to Google to target advertise and have their products and services appear in search results as thinly disguised real hits - really, how many times of you clicked on hit and just got advertising?

        Google's data is part of their business model. Selling it off is like selling their family jewels.

        Anyway, when I do research on the web, DuckDuckGo is the only way to go.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Can you trust that they never will? Just like Uber likely never would? Or any other shitty "big data" company never will? Until they do of course.

          I long for the day when all private messages on Google and Facebook end up in a public searchable database. That will be fun.

          • Can you trust that they never will?

            Yes. Google's power over advertisers lies in Google's exclusive access to user information. Advertisers pay Google to figure out who would be good recipients of advertising, based on the belief that Google can identify those people better than the advertiser. If Google sells its collection of user data, then the advertiser will be able to make that determination for itself, and Google loses its main advantage over other ad-distribution networks. You do not sell the goose that lays golden eggs.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )

        This is not what big data is, this is just selling customers' information. And Google, despite being listed in the summary, never does it BTW.

        No, and not for reasons for privacy either. They're simply holding onto it because it's more valuable for them to do so - for similar reasons that casinos and supermarket loyalty schemes might - to mine and profit from the information, layer services on top of it and deny that info to competitors.

      • The point of customer data, big or small, in the end appears to be to improve the ways companies can sell us crap (and doesn;t the whole world seem to revolve around that, sometimes?). Google does not sell the data to others directly because they can do so indirectly: they (claim to) provide advertisers on their network with a competitive edge by using customer data.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gnasher719 ( 869701 )

        This is not what big data is, this is just selling customers' information. And Google, despite being listed in the summary, never does it BTW.

        That lame argument that Google doesn't sell out customer's data comes up again and again. And it is nonsense, every time. They don't sell the data, but they sell the use of the data. They place adverts based on the data, using their deep knowledge about you (the product).

        This is like arguing that an email spammer who doesn't sell his address list to other spammers, but sends spam emails as a service, is a good guy because he doesn't sell your address. Or arguing that a car thief doesn't do any harm as lo

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yet i'm 99% sure my facebook newsfeed correlates to my google searches.

        With ghosty active and nearly 0 addons, am I missing something?

        • You search on google. You click links. Links lead yo pages that have Facebook like buttons. Facebook learned that you visited the page. Facebook has already prescraped the page and classified its content. Facebook now can show it in your feed. Or. You search on google. You click a link. That page has google ads. Google knows that you visited it. Google bids on facebooks ad exchange and sometimes wins the auction. Ads show up in the news feed. [Also works for any other advertising platform other than doubl
          • by biojayc ( 856286 )
            Sorry, was on my phone and forgot that slashdot requires formatting. So double post with better formatting.

            You search on google. You click links. Links lead yo pages that have Facebook like buttons. Facebook learned that you visited the page. Facebook has already prescraped the page and classified its content. Facebook now can show it in your feed.

            Or.

            You search on google. You click a link. That page has google ads. Google knows that you visited it. Google bids on facebooks ad exchange and sometimes
    • Sounds like a good way for Uber to end up in a lot of courts. If they thought that the lawsuits for violating various taxi laws were bad, wait until they see the ones for violating every variant implementation of the EU data protection directive...
      • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @05:51AM (#49334403)
        Starwood are a predominantly US chain but they and Uber had better be damned careful not to share info in the EU. It's not illegal for companies in the EU to do it, but they must obtain explicit consent and even then there are limits on the data they can share or aggregate and rules on how the data is managed.
        • Given Ubers track record, do you really think they care about the law?
          • by DrXym ( 126579 )
            Well they should if they don't want to be on the receiving end of massive fines. It's not like their cab service where they're fighting cities and towns.

            Europe has strong and clear-cut data protection laws that require explicit consent and limit the data that may be kept on a person to that needed. If Uber sell or aggregate data without good cause in the EU they'll be digging their own grave.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just a question:

      Would You agree to be used as product if:
      1) Price of the service is cut by half
      2) Anonymization of your data is really true

      There is a lot of good data to be used to improve traffic in big cities for instance, what about if You get benefited by the service as well?
      Can Big Data when properly regulated and anonymized be attractive ? Would You demand transparency as well, to find out whe

      • 2) Anonymization of your data is really true

        That has been shown to be increasingly difficult. [nature.com]

        There is a lot of good data to be used to improve traffic in big cities for instance.

        What does that have to do with a private taxi service collecting data on your movements? That's a matter for the municipal administration to solve.

      • The fact that someone argues that someone else benefits from their data being used improperly does not in any way change the fact that their data is being used improperly.
    • by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @06:06AM (#49334437)
      Haha. Anyone who has been to a South East Asian country knows all about this. You get a cheap price for the taxi and then spend half the day at the driver's cousin's Gem store on Silom Road trying to convince them to take you to see the real Giant Buddha. It's funny how you add a splash of paint and some suits to a scam and everyone thinks the western world is 'advanced'.
    • by Deagol ( 323173 )

      > shitweasels

      Stephen King fan?

  • by kooky45 ( 785515 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @04:47AM (#49334279)
    They say they'll operate like Google and Facebook, but they'll do the same as they've done with taxi regulations; ignore the rules. Don't be suprised if we hear about data protection regulations being flouted because Uber are "just a car sharing company, and not a marketting giant".
  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @04:57AM (#49334293)

    Good thing I don't use Uber, then!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But where is love for Uber? There has been a lot of Slashdot people talking up Uber. I wonder what those same people are thinking now. Personally I never liked Uber to begin with because they are breaking laws instead of trying to work with city governments.

      • by plopez ( 54068 )

        It is much harder to love someone when you realize one day they gave you a virus. ;)

  • Did anyone using this service expect anything less? The data created by the company is another product that can be consumed.

    I used to love being a free person, now I'm a data product to be bought and sold, much like a slave.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ubers app records location not just when you're using its service, it tracks you always. Uber is part owned by Google, Google also track you always. Lots of companies track your details, from the contacts in your address book, your locations, your messages, the URLs you visit, the search terms, what porn you like. Your bank transactions, your medical details, your identity details, all are sold under the category 'business records'. Your relationships, your family, romantic and sexual links. Where you shop,

  • by magamiako1 ( 1026318 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @05:37AM (#49334355)
    You're an idiot, plain and simple.

    Selling "Customers as a service" is the big, new economy and every single "startup" and "app" coming out of places like Y Combinator in the past few years has been about nothing more than selling your information. Every mobile app, every mobile game. Every "CHECK OUT THIS FREE NEW THING!" For example, Life 360. Think they're offering this for free? Life360 is currently valued at $250M. Facebook paid a few billion for WhatsApp Messenger.

    You're a complete moron if you haven't been watching this.
    • This isn't new. Data aggregators have been operating since before ARPANET existed. Every electronic transaction you make is sold to private brokers for a little extra profit and there are zero regulations on what they do with that data.

      • This isn't even old..

        Every prescription you get from a pharmacy.
        Every ticket you get from the cops.
        Every loan, credit card, house, boat, car, truck or Real Doll that you ever purchase.
        Every pack of bubblegum that you buy with anything other than cash.
        Everything you buy in a supermarket.
        Everything you buy at WalMart, Target, TacoBell and the porn shop down the hall.*

        Hell, likely everything you buy from your drug dealer is aggregated.

        But all of this is dwarfed (so to speak) by the overlords of Mountain View -

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Privacy will be the new luxury commodity of the 21st century. Seriously, it takes a shitload of time and thought to secure even the slightest bit of privacy these days. The biggest leak point of personal information are definitely smartphones. They haven't matured to a point where they would be as "easily" configurable as PC's and hence users usually haven't got the slightest clue what the phone is doing with all their data. I mean, a great example would be my smartphone's built-in weather widget: why the f

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A tax avoiding Luxembourg company breaking EU data privacy laws wont end well.

  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @06:29AM (#49334495) Homepage

    As someone who is an SPG member and generally keeps tabs on what new promotions Starwood runs, this is anything but news. Starwood has over the past year or two, as a general strategy, struck up this kind of relationsip with a ton of companies.

    - Starwood partners with Caesars Entertainment, where your SPG profile and your Total Rewards profiles can be linked. This means that loyalty shown at Caesars casinos can help you at Starwood hotels, and vice-versa

    - Starwood also partners with Delta, where your SPG profile and your Skymiles profile can be linked, in a simmilar capacity - you can earn both skymiles and SPG points for Detla flights and for hotel stays.

    - Now, they are doing the same with Uber... same story as above.

    Obviously these companies are going to share customer data. However, if you think Starwood has the infrastructure built, capacity or talent to data mine Uber for what restaurants you go to and target hotel promotions, I think you have a bit higher expectations of them than I do. The much more immediate use of these types of partnerships is to encourage cross-brand loyalty for both companies.

  • Well, it's time to change their name to Unter. See ya assholes.

  • Honestly ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @06:51AM (#49334577) Homepage

    Anybody who says they didn't see this coming is a complete fool.

    This kind of crap was the goal all along.

    They're a non-taxi taxi company who has non-employee employees who aren't covered by any rules, who has to justify a billion plus in valuation, and want to sell you data.

    Everything about this company has been sleazy from the get go. Suddenly becoming a big-data company was entirely predictable.

    Just another greedy technology company, claiming to be innovative, mostly skirting around the rules they claim don't apply to them, and wanting to use their access to your cell phone to sell data about you ... because that's where the real money is.

    These guys have always sounded like a sleazy player. Maybe their "customers" will wise up. And maybe their drivers will too. The product has always been data.

  • So how that Uber is going to make all this money from location data, are they going to give free rides? It seems unlikely, but it's possible that the revenue stream from subscribers to their database could exceed the operating costs for fuel, paying drivers, and other overheads. If they give free rides, they may be able to side-step some of the taxi laws, because they're not profiting directly from the riders.

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @07:11AM (#49334653) Journal

    private cash only transactions.

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      Moderated 'insightful'? Seriously? To me it is blindingly obvious.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Moderated 'insightful'? Seriously? To me it is blindingly obvious.

        Welcome to modern society.

        The banks addict them to using a card (gotta get those points) but they act all hurt when the merchant raises prices because of credit card fees. Allow all kinds of draconian laws to be created to fight "teh terr'sts" but act like its the end of the world when this is used to curtail something they enjoy.

        Hypocrisy isn't just in fashion, it's become a way of life.

  • Why is google listed?

    They aggregate and anonymize the data before they sell it; it's just statistical information at that point.

  • I never did believe for a minute they were nothing but full of shit. I was right. Where I go is nobody's business but mine.
  • Ugh. All your base R belong to us.

    Avec optional appositional phrase:

    means that Uber can, and is, on its way to becoming a Big Data company

    Sans optional appositional phrase:

    means that Uber can on its way to becoming a Big Data company

    With proper parallelism:

    means that Uber can become, and is on its way to becoming, a Big Data company

    With more visual help to pair the distal commas:

    means that Uber can become—and is on its way to becoming—a Big Data company

    As it happens, I listened to an EconTalk ep

  • That's what they should change their company name to, to be more in line with reality.
  • ...the big boys will probably leave them alone.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Another megabytes the dust.

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