Uber, the pioneer in ride-sharing may have innovated what gets you from here to there, but there’s nothing innovative about how it handled a hacker who allegedly stole 57 million users information – IT COVERED IT UP! According to Bloomberg News, in October 2016 hackers stole data from the company that included its users telephone numbers and driver’s license information and Failed to Disclose the data breach to its customers. Instead, the company paid hackers $100,000 to on their honor delete the compromised data. It’s not clear if they paid the extortion with bitcoins or some other cryptocurrency, but it is clear they did not do right to their customers whose information may have been compromised and by waiting for over a year for this to be disclosed it suggests deep integrity issues over there. Further, it’s users still haven’t been properly notified.
The irony of the cover-up is at the same time they were negotiating with regulators from the United States amidst privacy concerns and were smack dab in the middle of litigation with its drivers over Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations for classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. In the thick of discovery for these processes and some very front page news regarding management having issues, the cover up was well on its way.
Oftentimes the cover up is worse than the underlying item they’re worried about, and in this case it might or might not be. I mean, after all, if you take the hackers at their word, I’m sure they just deleted all the information they stole. A crime motivated by profit wouldn’t continue to profit by keeping a set of the data would it?
Perhaps, UBER hid behind the fact that it had an arbitration clause and for a period of time that clause which seeks to kill consumer class actions was found unenforceable and they wanted to wait that out with deliberate recklessness towards its customers. But then how does one hold a major company accountable when an individual may only have a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars’ worth of damages, and the cost for admission to arbitrate may be to pay the arbitrator $500 an hour to privately and individually judge that claim? The inequity of arbitration.
It should be interesting to read how this plays out over the coming months. Hopefully, there will be some industrious ways to hold UBER accountable, or perhaps some courageous whistleblower will step forward and blow the whistle on what really went on.
I guess for now UBER which in Latin means abundance doesn’t refer to the fact that you can obtain a ride anywhere, but that thanks to them your data may be everywhere. And its users who rely on them to safeguard their information through Fides et Justitia (faith and justice), now need UBER to do something for people to regain its trust or else justice will claim another nascent company who is up to old tricks.