Franken still not happy with Uber

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken to launch 15-stop comedy tour Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Gillibrand: 'I definitely want to run for president again' MORE says that Uber still has a lot of explaining to do.

The Minnesota Democrat previously pressed the ride-sharing company over its protection of users’ privacy, in light of news that some employees had access to a “God View” that could track the location of every user in an Uber car.


In response, an Uber executive told the senator that officials “care deeply” about users’ privacy but that some “misperceptions” about its policies had recently taken hold in the media.

The God View tool is “essential to Uber’s operations teams,” managing counsel Katherine Tassi wrote in a letter to Franken, so that the company can track whether cars are too closely clumped together and be able to respond in an emergency.

“This tool is now made available only to employees working in operations or other areas, like fraud prevention, where it is necessary to have a real-time view of trips,” she added.

Franken was not satisfied by the response.

“While I’m pleased that they replied to my letter, I am concerned about the surprising lack of detail in their response,” he said in a statement. “Quite frankly, they did not answer many of the questions I posed directly to them.”

“Most importantly, it still remains unclear how Uber defines legitimate business purposes for accessing, retaining, and sharing customer data,” he added.

“I will continue pressing for answers to these questions.”

The continued concern could spell more of a headache for Uber, which has attracted an increasing number of critics as its popularity has risen drastically in recent months.

In addition to reports about the company’s use of the God View feature to track all of its cars, Franken also raised concerns about an Uber executive’s suggestion that it hire investigators to dig up dirt on journalists who are critical of the company. Uber has since apologized for those remarks.

In his letter last month, Franken asked whether any disciplinary action was taken as result of those statements and why someone’s information isn’t deleted once their account is terminated, among other questions that Uber did not answer.

Franken has long been a critic of privacy issues and has previously introduced a bill that would give new protections to people’s geolocation information.