Uber gave US regulators data on 12 million users


Uber has handed over information affecting more than 12 million riders and drivers to a number of U.S. regulators, its first ever transparency report revealed, but the taxi app was highly critical of the data being requested.

Regulated transport companies are required by law to provide information to authorities, including trip requests, fares, and pickup and dropoff areas.

Uber received 33 requests for data from several different authorities across a number of states including California and Texas between July and December 2015. This affected a total of 11,644,000 riders and 583,000 drivers.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

The ride hailing start-up, which is valued at over $62 billion, also said it received 408 requests for rider accounts and 205 requests for driver data from local, state and deferral law enforcement authorities. In 85 percent of these requests, some data was handed over.

A large number of the law enforcement requests Uber received were related to fraud investigations or the use of stolen credit cards, according to the report.

While Uber complied with the law, it was critical of the amount of data being requested.

"Of course regulators will always need some amount of data to be effective, just like law enforcement. But in many cases they send blanket requests without explaining why the information is needed, or how it will be used. And while this kind of trip data doesn't include personal information, it can reveal patterns of behavior—and is more than regulators need to do their jobs," Uber wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

"Today requests to digital companies often exceed those for offline companies. For example, a taxi company might have to submit a paper log with the rough pickup and dropoff locations of a trip. But we might be asked to share the precise GPS coordinates of the pickup and dropoff locations, or even the entire path of the trip."

Uber's transparency comes after a high-profile clash between Apple and the U.S. government over unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. While this was done in the end without the help of Apple, the saga raised questions about data privacy and security, something still concerning the world's biggest technology companies.

Many other technology firms including Google and Facebook release transparency reports but those focus on requests from law enforcement agencies. Uber's is different as it includes other regulators in the transport that are requesting data.