Uber to Pay $148 Million to Settle US Data Breach Cover-Up

Uber to Pay $148 Million to Settle US Data Breach Cover-Up

Uber Technologies will pay $148 million (roughly Rs. 1,000 crores) for failing to disclose a massive data breach in 2016, marking a costly resolution to one of the biggest embarrassments and legal tangles the ride-hailing company has suffered.

The settlement with 50 US states and Washington, DC brings closure to one of several high-stakes legal battles Uber is seeking to resolve before an initial public offering next year, while also delivering a national rebuke against Uber’s history of flouting laws and basic business ethics.

The amount is the largest among attorneys general settlements in privacy cases. By comparison, the multi-state settlement with Target Corp in 2017, over a breach in which 41 million people had their data stolen, was $18.5 million (roughly Rs. 134 crores).

The settlement follows a 10-month investigation into a data breach that exposed personal data from 57 million Uber accounts, including 600,000 driver’s licence numbers. Uber’s new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi disclosed the breach in November, more than a year after the company was hacked under the previous CEO. Khosrowshahi has said the incident should have been disclosed to regulators at the time it was discovered in 2016.

The cover-up, widely seen by states as violating data breach reporting and data security laws, drew the ire of authorities across the United States and also in the United Kingdom, Australia and the Philippines. About half of the data breach victims lived in the United States.

The settlement terms include changes to Uber’s business practices aimed at preventing future breaches and reforming its corporate culture. Uber will be required to report any data security incidents to states on a quarterly basis for the next two years, and implement a comprehensive information security programme overseen by an executive officer who advises executive staff and Uber’s board of directors.

“We know that earning the trust of our customers and the regulators we work with globally is no easy feat,” said Uber Chief Legal Officer Tony West. “We’ll continue to invest in protections to keep our customers and their data safe and secure, and we’re committed to maintaining a constructive and collaborative relationship with governments around the world.”

In November 2016, Uber paid the hackers – who included a 20-year-old Florida man and a hacker in Canada – $100,000 to destroy the stolen data, using its “bug bounty” programme, which is designed to reward security researchers who report flaws in a company’s software. Uber then chose not to report the matter to victims or authorities.

“Uber’s decision to cover up this breach was a blatant violation of the public’s trust,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Consistent with its corporate culture at the time, Uber swept the breach under the rug in deliberate disregard of the law.”

California, one of lead states in the settlement effort, will keep $26 million, to be split between the state Attorney General’s Office and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, a spokeswoman for Becerra’s office said.

Khosrowshahi fired two of Uber’s top security officials when he announced the breach, and other members of that team have since departed. The company recently hired a chief privacy officer and chief security officer.

It still faces lawsuits from riders, drivers and the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles over the data breach.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Uber Heads in New Direction With Toyota on Self-Driving Cars

Uber Heads in New Direction With Toyota on Self-Driving Cars

Uber is teaming up with Toyota to build self-driving cars for its ride-hailing service after its efforts to do it alone were derailed by a fatal collision and allegations of high-tech theft.

Toyota, based in Japan, is also investing $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,500 crores) in Uber as part of the alliance announced Monday.

The deal aims to combine the best features from the two companies’ work on autonomous technology into cars that will be picking up Uber’s customers by 2021.

By the time that happens, Uber hopes to have completed an initial public offering of stock that will enrich a list of early investors that now includes Toyota. Those investors have been pouring billions of dollars into Uber’s revolutionary ride-hailing service that still hasn’t proven it can make money since its inception nearly a decade ago.

Uber is counting on self-driving cars to help it turn the financial corner by reducing the need to pay human drivers who arrive to pick up passengers in private vehicles summoned through a smartphone app.

By expanding into autonomous vehicles, Uber also hopes to ward off a looming competitive threat from another early investor, Google and its self-driving car spin-off Waymo, which is poised to launch its own ride-hailing service in Arizona before the end of this year.

“Our goal is to deploy the world’s safest self-driving cars on the Uber network, and this agreement is another significant step towards making that a reality,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Meanwhile, Toyota is trying to evolve from a pure automobile maker into a “mobility company,” as are many of its industry peers, including General Motors and Ford in the US. That crusade has prodded decades-old automakers such as Toyota and GM to invest in and partner with technology companies working on self-driving cars while also opening up their own research hubs in Silicon Valley.

Besides allowing them to lean on each other’s respective strengths, Toyota’s deal with San Francisco-based Uber also will help the two companies spread out the cost of designing and building the complex systems, which use computers, cameras, radar and laser sensors to guide the self-driving vehicles.

Uber is turning to Toyota for help in autonomous vehicles five months after one of its self-driving cars ran over and killed a pedestrian crossing a dark street in Tempe, Arizona.

The March 18 crash prompted Uber to temporarily suspend its work on its self-driving car program while conducting a safety evaluation.

Authorities determined the sensors on Uber’s self-driving car sensors spotted the pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, but the vehicle’s automatic-braking function had been disabled in favour of a human backup driver. Tempe police said the driver was distracted and streaming a television show before the crash.

Uber had little choice but to find a self-driving car partner after the collision that killed Herzberg, said Navigant Research analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

“It’s going to be tough for them to build consumer trust in whatever it is they’re developing,” he said. “I think that people will have a lot more trust in Toyota to do this the right way, to take due care and make sure everything is properly tested and evaluated.”

Uber’s expansion into self-driving cars suffered another setback last year after Waymo accused it of stealing its technology in an elaborate scheme . The case went through one week of a high-profile trial before Uber agreed to pay Waymo $245 million in stock to settle the allegations without acknowledging wrongdoing.

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Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber is seeking a second chance in Barcelona three years after it was forced to shut down in the face of taxi driver protests – by introducing a fully licenced ride-hailing service that meets local transportation laws.

Its new UberX service will operate with hundreds of professional, licenced drivers in contrast to the UberPopservice it ran until late 2014 using non-professional drivers to pick up and drop off passengers, Uber said on Tuesday.

Uber is looking to make a clean break with business practices that resulted in a litany of regulatory battles, driver and consumer scandals and court cases.

“We made mistakes along the way,” Uber General Manager for Southwest Europe Carles Lloret said in a company blog post.

“We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of the cities in which we operate. Barcelona is no exception.”

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in January he was focused on “responsible growth” as he seeks to put an end to the take-no-prisoners culture he inherited upon joining the pioneer of ride-hailing services last year.

Two years ago, Uber re-introduced UberX using professional drivers in Madrid. In December 2014, a judge had ordered all Uber services to be shut down in Spain’s capital city.

Decrying Uber’s return as unfair competition to their livelihoods, taxi drivers have mounted a series of 24-hour strikes in Madrid, Barcelona and other Spanish cities over the past year.

“We are fully committed to working with the entire sector – including taxis – to improve mobility in Barcelona together,” said Lloret.

San Francisco-based Uber pre-emptively closed its services in Barcelona in December 2014 as local officials geared up to pass legislation against the UberPop service, which city authorities legally barred the following year.

Protests by taxi associations over the past year against Uber have also targeted Madrid-based Cabify, a rival founded in 2012 that operates in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Uber operates a range of ride-hailing services in more than 600 cities around the world.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Uber Introduces UK Safety Measures Amid Licence Battle

Uber Introduces UK Safety Measures Amid Licence Battle

US ride-hailing app Uber on Friday announced new safety features for its service in Britain, as it appeals against the withdrawal of its licence in London.
The service, which has around 40,000 drivers in London, lost its licence over its reporting of serious criminal offences and its criminal-record checks for drivers, but is allowed to operate in the capital pending the appeal which is set to be heard later this year.

Uber will now “pro-actively” make reports of serious incidents related to a trip to the police, rather than encouraging individuals to contact authorities themselves, according to a statement on its website.

From next month, passengers will also receive the driver’s licence number in their booking confirmation, meaning passengers can more easily raise issues with the relevant licensing authority.

The app has already capped the number of hours its drivers can work in Britain in a bid to increase safety after heavy criticism of its business practices, and will set up a 24/7 telephone helpline for riders and drivers.

“We’re determined to change the way we do business, so we’ll carry on listening and plan to make other improvements over the coming months,” it said.
London’s transport authority said in September that it would not renew the ride-hailing company’s licence, with the appeal due to be heard in May or June.

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