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[SAN FRANCISCO] Ride service Uber, which is trying to enhance its image after several controversies, on Friday released the findings of a report on its handling of passenger data and said it would act on all the report's recommendations for improvements.
Lawyers at Hogan Lovells, who wrote the report commissioned and paid for by Uber, found that the smartphone app-enabled service had appropriate guidelines and procedures in place for internal access control, data security and data retention.
The report said Uber could improve privacy and data security by taking steps such as providing training for employees, making policies easier for customers to understand, and tightening access controls.
Management at the San Francisco-based company, which announced the report's findings in a blog post, said on Friday it had already begun putting the recommendations into effect.
Uber commissioned the report in November, shortly after a dinner where a company executive raised the idea of hiring researchers to examine and disclose activities of media critics. It also emerged that Uber executives sometimes used an internal tool called "God View" to track specific customer rides, including the ride of a reporter for the news outlet Buzzfeed.
The incidents provoked strong public criticism, including from Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who sent letters to Uber and rival service Lyft asking about the companies' privacy procedures. Each company responded, but Franken has asked Uber for further details.
In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Hogan Lovells lawyer Harriet Pearson said Uber had "dedicated significantly more resources to its privacy programme than other companies we've observed of similar age, sector and size." The report also said employees had received clear communication from management on the importance of privacy, and that the company's internal audit unit was developing plans to evaluate the tone in at Uber's top level in the context of regular audits.
Uber has proven extremely popular with customers, who like the convenience of requesting a ride using a smartphone app. The company has expanded quickly, offering services in 54 countries. But it has met challenges from regulators and lawmakers, leading to bans in some cities, such as Las Vegas.
On Thursday, a passenger who says she was raped by her Uber driver in New Delhi filed a US federal lawsuit, claiming the company failed to maintain basic safety procedures.