Under Pressure, Uber Hires Privacy Czar and Launches Audit

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber has hired a law firm to audit its handling of customer data, the ride-sharing service announced Thursday after a week full of data-related controversies.

The firm Hogan Lovells "will conduct an in-depth review and assessment" of Uber's practices and make recommendations, the company announced in a blog post Thursday. The firm's Harriet Pearson, a lawyer with deep experience in privacy and cybersecurity issues, will join Uber's privacy team.

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"The trip history of our riders is important information and we understand that we must treat it carefully and with respect, protecting it from unauthorized access," Uber wrote.

Uber made the announcement after a week of reports around how it handles data. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick apologized on Twitter for comments made by executive Emil Michael, who according to Buzzfeed News suggested Uber could look into hire opposition researchers to dig up dirt on reporters who write negative things about the company.

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Meanwhile, Uber is also reportedly investigating claims that a different executive tracked a Buzzfeed News reporter's car ride with an internal "God View" tool without her consent.

After the pair of controversies, Uber publicly released its data privacy policy for the first time. Uber's Thursday announcement came one day after Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) publicly called on Uber to clarify its policies around how it handles riders' data.