The UK Supreme Court Rules that Workers for Uber are Employees

Mary-Ann Russon for the BBC:

The ruling on Friday was Uber’s last appeal, as the Supreme Court is Britain’s highest court, and it has the final say on legal matters.
Delivering his judgement, Lord Leggatt said that the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Uber’s appeal that it was an intermediary party and stated that drivers should be considered to be working not only when driving a passenger, but whenever logged in to the app.

Uber has been exploiting workers for years now by pretending the workers aren’t employees. Uber sets the pay rate, decides who is allowed to drive, what kind of vehicles are allowed to be used, when driving may occur, the price charged to the customer, and is definitely an employer even if the relationship happens through a phone application.

Congrats to the App Drivers & Couriers Union for helping to deliver this victory for labor rights for workers in the United Kingdom especially on this part of the win as they describe it:

The court further clarified that working time for the purposes of calculation of the minimum wage and holiday pay would be from logon to log off including stand by time. The court rejected Uber’s argument that if drivers are workers then working time should only be calculated as journey time with a paying passenger. This decision alone has significant implications for reducing urban congestion, pollution and poverty since Uber will now have the correct economic incentive to efficiently utilise driver and vehicle working time.

Uber Hid Hack of Data From 57 Million Users & Drivers

Bloomberg’s Eric Newcomer:

Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers.

Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said.

Uber Had the Opportunity to Monitor Everything on Your iPhone’s Screen

Daniel Jalkut:

Yesterday, Gizmodo reported that Uber had been granted an entitlement for their iOS app that allowed them to capture an image of an iPhone’s screen at any time, even when the Uber app was not the active app on the phone. This is a big deal, because users don’t typically expect than an iPhone app that is not active might have the ability to eavesdrop on anything they are doing.

I have long felt that the sandboxing infrastructure on both iOS and Mac should be used to more accurately convey to users specifically what the apps they install are capable of doing. Currently the sandboxing system is used primarily to identify to Apple what a specific app’s privileges are. The requested entitlements are used to inform Apple’s decision to approve or reject an app, but the specific list of entitlements is not easily available to users, whose security is actually on the line.

This is absolutely fucking ridiculous. Fuck Uber. Apple should be ashamed for working with them at any level. Allowing an app to covertly record your screen without any prompting is exactly the kind of thing that Apple’s iOS app review process should prevent.

Uber claims they didn’t do anything wrong with this ability, the security researchers told Gizmodo that they didn’t detect anything going on with this code.

There are companies that are less trustworthy than Uber, but few have the opportunity to be as evil on such a large scale. Enabling them to do anything more than operate at a basic level on your platform is a mistake. At this point Apple should block them entirely and attempt to help the Taxi industry to reform and compete with Uber. Not that Apple would ever would, but still that would be the best thing to come out of this. The next best thing would be the improvements to the entitlement system that Jalkut suggests.

I wouldn’t even bother to wonder what Uber are doing on Android, where security is a fucking joke and carriers are still selling devices running ancient versions of that operating system that are affected by dozens of security vulnerabilities. This is especially true for pay-as-you-go phones sold cheaply at places like Walmart, Target, and so on. Those carriers and stores are endangering their customers by continuing to sell these devices.

A Legally Operated Taxi Service Wouldn’t Do This

Mike Isaac for the New York Times:

Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been outright banned.

The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.

[…]

If users were identified as being connected to law enforcement, Uber Greyballed them by tagging them with a small piece of code that read “Greyball” followed by a string of numbers.

When someone tagged this way called a car, Uber could scramble a set of ghost cars inside a fake version of the app for that person to see, or show that no cars were available.

Intentionally obstructing local authorities from using their service probably isn’t illegal, but it isn’t something you would have to do if you were proud of your product and thought it was defensible in a court of law.

Could you imagine if Apple checked if users were government agents and shut off their laptop or desktop computers? Not that our government would worry, the president only uses devices that are designed in Korea.

Delete Uber Parts 1-3999

Nick Heer has this round-up of Uber in the news for the past 3 years. It includes this gem, from Buzzfeed:

Early this November, one of the reporters of this story, Johana Bhuiyan, arrived to Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City for an interview with Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber New York. Stepping out of her vehicle — an Uber car — she found Mohrer waiting for her. “There you are,” he said, holding his iPhone and gesturing at it. “I was tracking you.”

Mohrer never asked for permission to track her.