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July 18, 2024

Lynette Callar

Intelligent Transportation Solutions

3 Ways That Ride-Share Apps Get Around Privacy & Security


When you use a ride-share app, you’re giving up your privacy and handing over your personal data. You may think that it’s just for the purposes of using the app itself, but in reality, companies like Uber and Lyft are collecting much more information than they let on. That data can be used for numerous reasons from finding new ways to make money off of their users to predicting trends based on the types of people who use their services most often. Here’s an overview from three different angles:

1. The Data Hoard:

Ride sharing apps collect your data and use it to make money, but they need to be more transparent about how they do it.

The first way that ride-share apps get around privacy and security is by collecting your information without telling you. Most people don’t realize that when they enter their credit card details into the app, they are also giving away their location information–and possibly even more sensitive data like social security numbers or driver’s license numbers. Ride sharing companies then use this information to sell targeted advertising on other platforms like Facebook and Google. The problem here is that there isn’t any transparency about what kind of data these companies are collecting from users–or how secure that data is being stored within the app itself (or outside).

2. The 3rd-Party Problem:

The second problem with ride-sharing apps is their use of third-party services. The ride-share companies themselves don’t collect much data about you–they’re just trying to make money by connecting you with drivers who will take you where you want to go. But many of these apps use other companies in order to provide their services, and those companies can sell your personal information if they choose (or even if they’re hacked).

  • Uber uses Facebook for its social features and Google Maps for directions; Lyft uses Google Maps as well but has its own app for payments called Zelle that doesn’t require sharing any data with the company behind it.*

3. Your Personal Data Is a Monetization Strategy:

You may have heard that ride-share apps collect your data and use it to make money. While this is true, the extent of what they do with your information can be a little surprising.

In fact, some of these companies are so focused on monetizing their users’ personal information that they’ve been accused of being “data brokers” who sell user information to third parties without consent or even notification:

  • In 2017, Uber paid $20 million to settle charges that it had misled customers about how it handled their data when they signed up for its service. The FTC said Uber’s privacy policy was deceptive because it didn’t clearly disclose how long sensitive personal data would be stored by third parties after a rider deleted his or her account (which could be forever).
  • Lyft has also been accused of deceiving riders about how much access drivers had to riders’ personal data–including where they lived and worked–and selling sensitive user info without consent.*

Ride sharing apps collect your data and use it to make money, but they need to be more transparent about how they do it.

Ride sharing apps collect your data and use it to make money, but they need to be more transparent about how they do it.

When you use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, you share your location with the company in order for them to pick you up at a convenient time and place. Ride-sharing apps also collect data about where people are requesting rides from, as well as how often people are using certain routes or vehicles (like an Uber Pool). This information helps companies decide where to invest their resources–and it gives them insight into how many drivers should be on call at any given time.

But what happens when that information gets shared? In April 2019, journalists found out that Uber had been sharing rider data with third parties without permission; specifically: “Uber was passing along riders’ names and phone numbers so those third parties could send targeted ads via text message.”


Ride-share apps can be a great way to get around town, but they also collect a lot of personal data. Ride-share apps need to be more transparent about how they use this information and make sure that users understand what data is being collected from them.