Late last year, Uber made a change to its app that let it track customers after their rides had ended. Many troubled months later, the company is finally walking back that tweak, and will once again let customers have more control over when their locations are used.
Users will now have three choices for location tracking in Uber, Reuters reports: Always on, never on, or only on when in use.
That stands in contrast to what Uber started doing in late 2016, when it updated settings to binary: Either allowed it access to your locations at all times or not at all, with no middle ground.
Uber specifically used that access to track passengers for up to five minutes after their rides ended. As in, figuring out where you went on foot after you got out of the car Uber helped you summon. The company said its goal was to improve service and optimize drop-off points for future rides.
Privacy advocates objected. “Tracking you five minutes after you have been dropped off — some people might have very legitimate reasons why they don’t want a record about that,” the pro-privacy Electronic Frontier Foundation said at the time. “They may be concerned about getting into some database about their location and may get dropped off across the street. It’s sad to take that away.”
At the time, Uber said it was just building out on its existing functions, which allow the app to keep accessing your location while running in the background. (That way, it can keep working when you switch to some other app while you’re waiting for your ride or riding in the car that comes for you.)
However, in the months since then, Uber has repeatedly come under fire for its lax approach to users privacy.
In April, the company finally allowed users to delete own their location histories when cancelling their accounts. And in August, Uber reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over past privacy violations. As part of that settlement, Uber is basically on privacy probation for the next 20 years.
Uber representatives tell Reuters that although the changes to location-tracking permissions are going live on iPhone first, they will also be made available for the Android version of the app eventually.