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Senator Al Franken Goes After Uber On Location Data Sharing

al franken

Uber has a new enemy: Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. The Senator sent a letter to Uber asking the company to upgrade its privacy policies and to protect its users’ sensitive location data.

Al Franken is taking action after recent revelations surfaced that Uber employees had been accessing the private information of the company’s customers. In some cases people provided the locations at given times of users to jealous boyfriends. And some Uber employees even shared information on celebrities like Beyonce.

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There are also concerns after Uber changed its app settings last month. The company no longer allows users to limit it from seeing their location only at times when they actually use its app.

In a letter sent today to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Sen. Franken said that while Uber’s latest update may provide significant consumer benefits, the company should identify steps it can take to restore users’ control over their sensitive location information and provide easy access to a clear and comprehensive privacy policy for their customers.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters,  a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons,  a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco


“While the stated justifications for this update appear well-intentioned, I strongly believe that American consumers deserve a meaningful opportunity to decide for themselves the fate of their personal data, ” Sen. Franken wrote. “At the very least, consumers have a right to clear and comprehensive information about what data are being collected about them, how the data are being treated, and with whom the data are being shared. To achieve this necessary transparency, I urge you to amend Uber’s privacy statement to reflect the company’s public assurances and justifications related to the most recent app update.”

At the same time Al Franken has joined a group of 20 Senators who have called on President Elect Donald Trump to keep his campaign promise to help lower the cost of prescription medications.

In a letter sent to Trump, the Senators expressed concern over the rising cost of drugs and outlined several ways Trump can make good on his word to lower the rising cost of prescription drugs for consumers including: allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate better prices for Medicare recipients; requiring drug companies to disclose costs associated with developing drugs so prices are more transparent; putting an end to abusive price gouging; and ensuring competition and innovation that will lead to more affordable, effective drugs.

“It is undeniable that more and more families are struggling to access medications, and in many cases, are forced to choose between paying for prescription drugs and other necessities, like food and shelter. The American public is fed up, with roughly 8-in-10 Americans reporting that drug prices are unreasonable, and that we must take action to lower costs, ” said the Senators in the letter. “You now have the authority to push for a future that prioritizes patients. We are ready to advance measures to achieve this goal and we urge you to partner with Republicans and Democrats alike to take meaningful steps to address the high cost of prescription drugs through bold administrative and legislative actions.”

Sen. Franken has long been a leading advocate for cutting prescription drug costs and bringing down prices for all Minnesotans, including seniors. Earlier this year, Sen. Franken and his office held a “Prescription Drug Cost Listening Tour” in communities all across our state in order to hear concerns firsthand from older Americans who have been hit hard by skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs. He’s also pressed for measures that aim to end anticompetitive agreements in which brand name drug manufacturers pay generic drug companies to delay market entry of a generic competitor. Beyond that, he’s worked to end rules that ban the federal Medicare program from negotiating lower prices for drugs used by older Americans.



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