Uber And Ola Are Among The Most Data-Hungry Ride-Hailing Apps, Some Of Which Also Share Data With Advertisers: Study

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Jan 29, 2022 10:17 AM +05:30 IST
Uber And Ola Are Among The Most Data-Hungry Ride-Hailing Apps, Some Of Which Also Share Data With Advertisers: Study 
 The Uber app. (representative image) (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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  • As per cyber security firm Surfshark, Uber is the third most data-hungry ride-hailing and taxi app, while Ola is sixth.

    It was found in the study that nine of the 30 applications examined use the information they collect for "Third-Party advertising".

A recent survey has revealed that Ola is the sixth most data-hungry ride-hailing and taxi app, while GrabTaxi and Yandex Go were ranked first and second, respectively, with Uber coming in third place.

According to cyber security firm Surfshark, which published this study, apps frequently request access to various elements of the user's smartphone, such as contacts, microphones, and even cameras. This enables them to collect data about its users, which they can package and sell for more income.

“Ride-hailing apps are no different – they collect a lot of user data, and some of them even use it for target ads and marketing products from different companies,” said Surfshark and added that it was found that nine of the 30 applications examined use the information they collect for "Third-Party advertising".

“That’s why our research team has decided to deep-dive into the world of ride-hailing and see which services are the most data-hungry using our data sensitivity index,” it said.

The research team looked into the popular 30 ride-hailing apps in the Apple Store and compared their data collection practices. However, it also noted that different privacy options may be available in Google Play Store apps.

According to Surfshark, the data sensitivity index—which assesses how data-hungry ride-hailing apps are using a simple point system—was created using 32 distinct categories of data collected from the Apple Store.

These points were calculated in the manner of—the app scored 1 point for data that isn't associated with a user's identity (such as app crash data), 2 points for data that could be linked to a user’s identity (such as names), and 3 points for data that could track users across apps and websites (like user ID).

The result of the study showed that the popular Southeast Asian transportation company GrabTaxi collects 27 out of 32 possible data points listed in the Apple Store—10 times more data than the least data-hungry app Rapido.

“The only types of data it doesn’t collect are health and fitness, sensitive information (race, ethnicity, religion, etc.), and gameplay content. The app also shares some of its collected data like product interaction, name, email, phone number, and user ID with third parties,” noted Surfshark.

Moscow-based Yandex Go, the second most data-hungry ride-hailing app in the list, gathers information including purchase and search history, precise and course locations, all users' contact information, and identifiers like user ID and device ID. As per the report, it also has access to a user's images, videos, and audio files as well.

Uber has access to the videos, photos, texts and emails of its users, while Ola is believed to be gathering 18 data points, as per the research. The latter also shares email addresses and phone numbers with advertisers said the report.

Additionally, as per the study, Rapido only asks for information that is required for the app's functionality, such as the user's name and phone number.

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