Uber contends that they don't yet collect background location data, but they "may want to start" doing so in order to remove the lag time that occurs between when a user starts up the app and when the nearest drivers are identified.
The quick blow-up of this detail means that Uber has had to backtrack a bit and say they will not begin collecting such data on July 15, and there will likely be a permission component, as the LA Times reports. Also, the app may be able to locate you even if your GPS is off, via your phone's IP.
And of course the idea that Uber is possibly tracking your every move, even when you don't have the app open, is reminiscent of the "God View" controversy that surfaced last fall, when it was discovered that an Uber executive had used the internal live map of users to surveil a journalist.
Uber was quick to issue a less than apologetic statement Monday saying, "We care deeply about the privacy of our riders and driver-partners and have significantly streamlined our privacy statements in order to improve readability and transparency. These updated statements don't reflect a shift in our practices, they more clearly lay out the data we collect today and how it is used to provide or improve our services."
So is it data they collect today, or data they plan to collect later? Anyway, prepare for more backlash.