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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Uber Investigating Executive for Tracking Buzzfeed Reporter's Ride (Update)

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 5:53 PM

Update, Thursday, 9:02 a.m.: Uber issued a statement this morning, saying that it has hired data privacy expert Harriet Pearson to conduct an in-depth review of its privacy program and recommend changes. The company will respond to Senator Franken's questions in the coming weeks.

Original story:

Uber senior executive Emil Michael might get off scot-free after suggesting, over dinner with a Buzzfeed reporter and other media bigwigs, that the company might do well by hiring teams of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on critics in the media.

The incident provoked a veritable tempest on the internet, followed by a tweetstorm from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who apologized for his colleague's behavior but showed no intention of investigating, much less punishing Michael.

Another Uber higher-up, Josh Mohrer, might no be so lucky.

After reports surfaced that Mohrer had used the Uber "God View" app to track a BuzzFeed reporter's movements earlier this month, the company relented, and said it would investigate the alleged privacy violation.

It's the first of what might be a series of capitulations. Today Uber also received a stern letter from Senator Al Franken, who demanded more information about the "God View" tool and the company's privacy policy in light  of Buzzfeed's revelations. 

Franken demanded a response by December 15, in some form other than a tweet rant.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.

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