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Uber releases first-ever transparency report

Tue 12 Apr 2016

Uber taxi app

Today, Uber released its first transparency report, an overview of the information that was requested by U.S. regulators and law enforcement in the second half of 2015. The report shows that while Uber is not yet receiving the number or type of requests that non-transport companies do, the data requests affect millions of Uber customers and drivers.

Uber received 408 requests for information from law enforcement, and 415 from state and federal governments. These requests were complied with in approximately 85% of cases, where after review, Uber provided at least some of the data requested. They also responded to 67 requests for information from regulatory bodies and from airports, with data provided on over 11 million riders and 600,000 drivers.

The report divides requests for information into several distinct categories: regulatory compliance, airport reporting, law enforcement and government requests. Uber did not, however, receive any national security letters or FISA requests for data; in fact, issuing a ‘warrant canary’ in the report stating that fact.

Regulatory reporting is aggregate information requested by local regulatory agencies, and could include information about fares, vehicles and drivers as well as trip information such as trip requests, pickup and drop off areas. While Uber received hundreds of requests for information among different regulatory bodies, it appears to have evaluated each request individually. Its report separates the numbers of requests into those that were completed as required after narrowing the scope of the request, and as required after unsuccessfully attempting to narrow the scope. Requests for regulatory reporting numbered 33, affecting 11.6 million riders and 583,000 drivers. Regulatory reporting varies from one state or local body to the next; most information was provided about riders and drivers in Chicago, Houston, NYC, and California.

34 airport requests were submitted, affecting 1.6 million riders and 156,000 drivers. Information provided included monthly trip volumes, pick up and drop off locations, and vehicle and driver information. Law enforcement issued over 600 requests for information related to criminal investigations in the U.S., 408 for riders and 205 for drivers. 85% of these requests were at least partially complied with by Uber. The report stated that law enforcement requests are generally related to fraud investigations or the use of stolen credit cards.

Finally, the state and federal government issued 415 requests for information. These included subpoenas, search warrants, emergencies, and court orders. Uber provided at least some data in 85% of these requests (although it provided 100% data in all emergency requests). The report outlines Uber’s procedure upon receipt of a request for rider or driver information, and stresses that in non-emergency situations each request is reviewed to ensure that it satisfies legal requirements and if not, the request will be limited or denied.


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