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Apple threatened Uber of deleting its apps from the App Store due to spying on users

Uber was accused of spying its users even when not using its services, and the situation was so tensed that Apple threatened of deleting its apps from its online store, according to New York Times.

More specifically, Uber tried to fool Apple which lead to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking to discuss in the Apple campus to Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO at Uber.

Long story short, Uber was identifying each iPhone owner that was using its services and apps by relying on a piece of source-code, in a technique called ”fingerprinting”. Yet this tactic violates Apple rules, which clearly state to app developers that they should not identify users by their names, but collect general data only.


However, Travis Kalanick trained Uber engineers to make a virtual wall for the Apple headquarters in Cupertino. This practice is called ”geofence”, and the purpose was for Apple programmers to miss the fact that Uber was identifying exactly its users. Apple engineers figured this out, though, so Tim Cook called Kalanick at its headquarters.

Cook told him, “So I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules.”

The Apple CEO asked him to stop these abusive practices, or else he will eliminate the Uber apps from the App Store. The moment was extremely tensed for Kalanick.

Uber cannot afford to be left without an important client base because eliminating the apps would basically leave the company employees without the ability to work. The Uber CEO had to give in.

This is not the first time Uber has been accused of incorrect practices regarding localization data. Besides accessing user data, Uber was using special software to avoid the Police, since the company is operating at the limit of lawfulness in certain countries and territories. The software was used in cities such as Paris, Boston and Las Vegas, as well as countries such as Australia, China and South Korea.

Another software was following drivers from rival Lyft.

Daniel Higgson