Uber CEO apologises and reiterates privacy policy after senior exec suggests blackmailing critical journalists

Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, wants to win back user trust

Taxi app Uber has issued a privacy policy update following after news broke that one of its senior executives hinted he was open to using company resources to investigate journalists critical of the firm.

Responding to the news that Emil Michael, senior vice president of business for Uber, said he would spend “a million dollars” on a team of investigators and journalists to expose the secrets of those critical of the company by looking into “[their] personal lives and [their] families,” the firm issued an update on its privacy policy.

The blog post claimed that employees at “every level” are prohibited from accessing the journey data of riders and drivers.

After Michael said he was willing to dig up dirt on opposing journalists, fears emerged that those using the app could be tracked by the firm.

Uber said it would only access journey logs to help drivers solve logistical issues; facilitate payments to drivers; track the fraudulent use of stolen accounts and credit cards, and review individual journeys to troubleshoot bugs.

It added that any employees caught trying to access these records without permission would face “disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination and legal action”.

Apologising for Michael’s comments, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said in a series of tweets: “Emil's comments at the recent dinner party were terrible and do not represent the company. His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals.

“His duties here at Uber do not involve communications strategy or plans and are not representative in any way of the company approach.”

He concluded: “We are up to the challenge to show that Uber is and will continue to be a positive member of the community.”

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