by Caleb Pershan
When Uber allegedly showed off its “God View” at a Chicago launch party in 2011, it was a simpler time. Americans, just glimpsing the coming rideshare revolution and oblivious to the ears of the NSA, couldn’t yet be concerned with leaky clouds or human emotional experiments. So the company’s parlor gag — showing 30 high profile users as they danced around an Uber map like they were in an old video game — probably didn't seem so creepy.
But it really is now, and as Valleywag and Forbes noted last week, it probably wasn’t very cool then, either. In fact, in the God View of hindsight, it might have been a warning.
According to Uber drivers on Reddit, a God View (although not necessarily one with rider names) hasn’t been available to lay contractors in a quite a while, so that's good. Neither is it likely, with privacy concerns a purported priority in 2014, to be shown off at any more Uber events. And, if there is a god, they'll probably stop calling this feature by such a nightmarish name (in public, at least).
But as with many privacy revelations, the prevailing reaction has become one of suspicion confirmed, not outraged surprise. Increasingly few are shocked (shocked!) to learn of privacy violations in the Silicon Valley establishment.
For now, it would seem that the real concern is hacking: Someone other than a mighty tech overlord taking a peek at us all or targeting a single person. That would be a real horrorshow, but for Uber to know where its riders and drivers are at all times (and protect that information) seems to be a non-scandal. Everyone is quick to harp on Uber these days, though, as they grow so rapidly and if you think it's creepy to imagine CEO Travis Kalanick watching us all from a sort of Cerebro “God View,” monitor somewhere, then you will just have to deal with it, mortal.