Ap­ple gave Uber ‘dis­turb­ing’ access to users’ iphone data

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Cara Mc­googan

AP­PLE granted Uber the un­prece­dented and “dis­turb­ing” abil­ity to record what was dis­played on cus­tomers’ iphone screens, re­searchers have found.

The taxi app com­pany was given what ap­pears to have been spe­cial per­mis­sions that let it see what was hap­pen­ing on users’ de­vices at any time, even while a dif­fer­ent app was open, ac­cord­ing to Sudo Se­cu­rity Group.

It could do this by ac­cess­ing the colour data of ev­ery pixel on the dis­play, mean­ing it could the­o­ret­i­cally see what a user was do­ing.

If it had wanted to, Uber, or someone who had access to its sys­tem, could have mon­i­tored cus­tomers’ pass­words and tracked their use of other taxi apps.

The iphone maker gave Uber the ex­ten­sive access, which could amount to an in­va­sion of pri­vacy if used to mon­i­tor de­vices, to im­prove how the app worked with the Ap­ple Watch.

“It looks like no other third-party de­vel­oper has been able to get Ap­ple to grant them a pri­vate sen­si­tive en­ti­tle­ment of this na­ture,” Will Strafach, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sudo Se­cu­rity Group, told Giz­modo. “Con­sid­er­ing Uber’s past pri­vacy is­sues I am very cu­ri­ous how they con­vinced Ap­ple to al­low this.”

Uber said the “en­ti­tle­ment” was used to en­hance its Ap­ple Watch app as ear­lier ver­sions couldn’t ren­der maps.

“But it has been dor­mant for quite some time,” a spokesman said.

The com­pany said that the func­tion isn’t con­nected to any of its cur­rent fea­tures.

“We are work­ing with Ap­ple to re­move it com­pletely as soon as pos­si­ble,” it added.

But ex­perts said the priv­i­lege was “dis­turb­ing” and crit­i­cised Ap­ple for hav­ing granted it to Uber with­out mak­ing cus­tomers aware.

Jim Kil­lock, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Open Rights Group, said: “Uber has not proven it­self a trust­wor­thy com­pany ei­ther to reg­u­la­tors or consumers.

“It’s dis­turb­ing that they could have been able to use this to access in­for­ma­tion about com­peti­tors’ prod­ucts, reg­u­la­tors, or per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.”

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