Abusing the “God view” feature, Uber’s employees spied on celebrities, politicians, and even their former acquaintances.
Samuel Ward Spangenberg, former Uber forensic investigator, stated that even RnB singer, Beyoncé Knowles, was spied on. Using this feature employees were able to track her movements as long as other high profile individuals.
Claiming no good deed goes unpunished, Spangenberg is now suing His former company citing age discrimination as well as whistle blower retaliation. Spangenberg raised these claims in a court declaration in October.
He claims he raised his concerns regarding the lack of security to Uber executives including the company’s head of information security, John Flynn, and its HR chief Andrew Wegley, and was subsequently fired 11 months later.
On top of the lack of security oversight regarding customer Data, Spangenberg claims that there are several other ethical breaches taking place at Uber.
He alleges that the company proceeded to store driver and employee information insecurely while operating a vulnerability management policy which allows for this negligence if there exists “legitimate business purpose” for doing so.
In his sworn testimony, he went on to criticize Uber’s protocol for routine raids, stating “In those instances, Uber would lock down the office and immediately cut all connectivity so that law enforcement could not access Uber’s information. I would then be tasked with purchasing all new equipment for the office within the day, which I did when Uber’s Montreal office was raided.”
In a prepared statement issued to several media outlets, Uber stated that it “continues to increase our security investments and many of these efforts, like our multi-factor authentication checks and bug bounty program, have been widely reported.
We have hundreds of security and privacy experts working around the clock to protect our data. This includes enforcing to authorised employees solely for purposes of their job responsibilities, and all potential violations are quickly and thoroughly investigated.”
Uber confirmed that fewer than 10 employees had been fired for abusing the now renamed “Heaven View” tool. In addition, to prevent spying on notable figures, Uber implemented safeguards against searches for customers considered “MVP”, but as Spangenberg asserted this did nothing to address spying on individuals not considered celebrities.
This news comes right in the heels of the two week old Uber app update that increased the amount of user location information collected.
This new collection practices, which allows for the user’s location to be sent for five minutes after they are dropped off, is meant to improve drop-offs and pick-ups. However needless to say it has received substantial backlash from users concerned about the increased permissions.