Backtracking on a controversial practice, ride-hailing company Uber said today that it will no longer track users' physical whereabouts after they have been dropped off.
The move comes two weeks after the company agreed to settle a privacy complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission. It also comes after former CEO Travis Kalanick was ousted from the company.
Uber's decision marks a reversal of a policy implemented late last year, when the company began asking users of its iPhone app to always enable location-tracking -- even after they exited the cars.
Until last November, Uber gave people the option of allowing their location to be tracked only while they were using the app. (Customers could still refuse all location tracking, but doing so made the service harder to use.)
An Uber spokesperson said last year that the company made the change to improve service.
But the move spurred criticism by privacy advocates, who said the company should give users greater control over whether they share their location data.
Uber acknowledged those complaints on Tuesday. "While our efforts last fall around post-trip location were aimed at improving the user experience, our riders let us know we missed the mark," the company stated. "We took this feedback seriously and have been working hard to make things right."
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota), who was among those who criticized Uber last year, praised the company's decision to revert to its prior policy. "I’m glad to see that Uber has heeded my call and reinstated a customer’s ability to limit the collection of location data to only when the app is actually in use and that the company has chosen to end post-trip tracking," Franken stated Tuesday. "I’m hopeful that this announcement is the first step in Uber’s renewed commitment to the privacy and security of its users.”