Uber has had a strike of luck and another of bad juju over the past few months, as it was banned in Germany, but that won’t stop this company from expanding to one of the most rapidly developing industries right now: big data. Indeed, Uber is thinking of getting in on the gold-digging data train by selling its enormous amount of location data that it collects from users and drivers likewise. According to Forbes, Uber will start venturing into the big data realm of things soon enough.
Uber collects an enormous amount of data on its users, and most of it is location data, although it’s as private as it gets. The service gets your home address, your work address, your friends’ addresses, your favorite restaurants, your favorite hotels and bars and any other location you travel to using Uber. Although the service currently uses this data to make your experience with the app better, it won’t just restrict the use of your data to its own means, rather it will start selling it to companies that will exploit all the information that data conveys.
By that logic, the data Uber collects will reveal your eating habits, your travel destinations and preferences, how long you spend traveling, how much you spend on travel fares and so on. Companies will be able to use this data to target you with ads and services, and Starwood Preferred Guest is the first to do so. By connecting Uber to an account you hold with Starwood, you give it the rights to use all the information that Uber has on you in their servers.
As Uber is a widely used service, the data it collects reveals information about popular places people visit and go to, and that’s immensely valuable to companies. By using that data, they can paint a picture of you, John Smith and what you like and can figure out how to draw you out of your comfort zone and target you with ads and offers that will make you go elsewhere than your preferred location. While it sounds evil, it’s just business and there’s not much you can do about it, save for going off the grid, forever. I’m deeply disturbed by these things and I hate being coerced into choosing one service over the other through ads and offers, which is why I try to restrict the information I give away through apps like Uber, Tinder, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others that sell my data. Actually, I try not to even use them, and so far, I’ve been rather successful in that endeavor. If that’s for the better or for the worse, you decide.
That you should take away from this is that your information is valuable, and you give it away for services. Do these services really give you that much of an advantage? That’s a thought everybody needs to weigh for themselves and decide in an educated manner whether the service is worth the “sacrifice”. Some people like that their information is used to give them a better experience in the online world, while others feel a sense of violation. What do you feel knowing your Uber data and other data is being sold to hundreds of companies?