People are disappointed by the ‘secret’ backdoor provided by Apple to the infamous Uber app.
In an era, where privacy is of utmost important to people, it would be heart-breaking to know that your very own ‘Uber’ app is able to secretly record your iPhone’s screen and potentially access privileged information without the user’s knowledge, courtesy, a backdoor to Apple’s ‘secret‘ features.
The Cupertino based Apple Inc, is known to protect user privacy at all costs, as was with the case, when Apple refused to provide a backdoor to FBI to help unlock a passcode-protected iPhone 5 belonging to a suspected terrorist.
Therefore, this news may come as a shock to all those who trusted Apple with a blind-eye. Basically, the Uber app had been granted special permissions to access certain features, which would enable it to see what was happening to a user’s device at any time.
This isn’t just restricted to when a user is using the Uber app, but also when a different app might be being used, and does not necessarily mean that the Uber app must be open in the background.
All this is made possible since the app can access the color data of every pixel, which essentially makes up a whole image of what a person might be doing on their phones.
The reason due to which Uber got this access directly from Apple was to test out the performance of Uber app in relation with the Apple Watch, and remove any bugs by granting special access to carry out tests.
The irony is that no other third party developer has been able to be granted such special entitlement of this nature which currently Uber has.
According to the chief executive of Sudo security group “Considering Uber’s past privacy issues I am very curious how they convinced Apple to allow this.” Uber also had a privacy issue just before this, which was resolved just some time ago, which enabled Uber to secretly record a user’s whereabouts by using the location services permission granted to it by the user’s itself.
Therefore this new news might not be that surprising for those who knew about the location privacy issue already. According to their spokesman, “It was only ever used to render maps for an early version of our Apple Watch app and that it has been dormant for quite some time.”
Basically the problem arouse from map rendering which was not possible in the earlier versions of the quite popular Apple Watch, without the assistance provided by the ‘entitlement’, but the thing to worry about is that currently, none of the features of Uber app on Apple Watch requires such privileged access.
The same spokesperson commented that they are currently in collaboration with Apple to have this feature removed as earliest as possible, since this would only lead to user’s disappointment.
On the contrary, the tech-experts find it quite shocking for Apple to even allow such privilege. Apple should have at least notified its customers, through some means, or maybe it means that they did not want to themselves.
Apple products are known to be more safe and secure, than their counterparts. This essentially means, that making customers aware of this backdoor would only mean losing their trust.
According to the executive director of the Open Rights Group, “Uber has not proven itself a trustworthy company either to regulators or consumers,” and that “Apple should be very cautious about how Uber might use or abuse facilities like this. It’s disturbing that they could have been able to use this to access information about competitor’s products, regulators, or personal information of customers.”
He also further mentioned that “If Apple offers you a technical control to protect your privacy then it should work. You shouldn’t have to find out later that they weren’t telling the truth. Apple have got a lot to explain and this shouldn’t happen again.”
Considering Uber’s track record, it is certainly not the best in the business. They have been involved in developing tools which helps them keep track of regulators and their hired drivers. Furthermore, there is already a pending criminal investigation going on in the US, because of its Greyball technology.
This technology assisted Uber in getting around certain regulators present in certain where it currently runs it’s operations. Moreover, not only this but there has been a lot of criticism going around because of one of its programs, which monitors those drivers, who work for Uber and Lyft both.
Not only is Uber facing problems in the US, but in London, U.K it also was facing similar issues, because the London Transport had revoked Uber’s license based on that they did not deem the company’s service of good quality.
Coming back to the original issue, imagine all your private photos or recordings of what you might be doing on your phone, bank details and other important data getting sent over to Uber’s server, which could be misused by someone who can break into Uber, if not Uber itself!
There are some suspicions of rule bending by Apple too, since there are hints of a $69 billion start up’s relationship with Apple, which might just have made Apple reconsider their stance.
Though this has not always been the case. In 2015, when Apple’s CEO Tim Cook found out that Uber had been tagging iPhone’s even after the app deletion, which violates the Apple’s App Store guidelines, he explicitly stated that “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,”. Therefore its all but just an extremely shocking surprise to see such a blunder on Apple’s part, which puts all our private moments at stake.
Conclusively, we live in a world full of shadows, and even though the privileged feature is soon going to be removed from the Uber app, but it is our duty to stay vigilant, and always be on the lookout if something is suspicious!