Apple vs Uber privacy issue: Cook calls on Kalanick, threatens to kick app off iOS Store
A day after a media report claimed that Apple in 2015 threatened to kick Uber out of App Store for flouting the rules, the ride-hailing company replied on Monday, saying that it does not track users if they have deleted the app from their iPhones.
A New York Times report said on Sunday that Apple CEO Tim Cook convened a meeting with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in 2015 when he found Uber was directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple's engineers.
Cook reportedly warned Kalanick," So, I've heard you've been breaking some of our rules. Stop the trickery or Uber's app would be kicked out of Apple's App Store."
"We absolutely do not track individual users or their location if they've deleted the app. As the New York Times story notes towards the very end, this is a typical way to prevent fraudsters from loading Uber onto a stolen phone, putting in a stolen credit card, taking an expensive ride and then wiping the phone-over and over again," Uber told technology website Engadget in a statement on Monday.
According to the NYT report, the reason behind Uber's move was to keep Apple from finding out that Uber had been secretly identifying and tagging iPhones even after its app was deleted and the devices erased -- a fraud detection maneuver that violated Apple's privacy guidelines.
"Similar techniques are also used for detecting and blocking suspicious logins to protect our users' accounts. Being able to recognize known bad actors when they try to get back onto our network is an important security measure for both Uber and our users," Uber said in its statement.
Had Uber's app been kicked out of App Store, the ride-hailing company would have lost access to millions of iPhone customers, destroying its business.
According to the NYT report, to build Uber into the world's dominant ride-hailing entity, Kalanick has disregarded many rules and norms, backing down only when caught or cornered.
"He has flouted transportation and safety regulations, bucked against entrenched competitors and capitalised on legal loopholes and grey areas to gain a business advantage," the report pointed out.
However, in the process, Kalanick has helped create a new transportation industry, with Uber spreading to more than 70 countries and gaining a valuation of nearly $70 billion.