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Uber, Ola among most data-hungry ride-hailing apps

(Image credit: Uber)
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Cab-hailing apps GrabTaxi, Yandex Go (both not available in India), and Uber are the most data-hungry carpooling apps in the world. India’s most popular ridesharing app Ola comes in 6th place, while Rapido collects the least amount of data in the ranking.

These numbers emerged in a study conducted by cybersecurity company Surfshark. 

The study further revealed that ride-hailing and taxi apps collect extensive information about their users. According to the research, these apps, on average, collect 14 data points per user and 30% of them use this data for 'third-party advertising'.

Uber collects sensitive info

The study researched data collection practices of the 30 most known ride-hailing apps from the Apple Store and measured how much data the apps collect. 

The data was segregated into 3 categories: 1) data that is not linked to a user's identity (such as app crash data); 2) data that could be linked to a user's identity (such as name); 3) data that could track users across apps and websites (such as user ID). 

According to Surfshark's study (opens in new tab), GrabTaxi ranks 1st on the list and collects 27 out of 32 possible data points listed by Apple, including contact, financial, location information, and user content (photos, video, audio, etc.). Second on the list is Yandex Go, followed by the most popular ride-hailing app across most of the world, Uber. Together with Lyft (ranks 7th), Uber is the only ride-hailing app that additionally collects sensitive user information, which might include race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth information, and even biometric data.

India's Rapido, the cleanest

Most researched apps usually share the device and user ID, product interaction information, and precise location with third parties. But the most data-hungry apps can additionally use contact and payment information, user’s content (photo, video, audio, etc.) and other user data for third-party marketing purposes. 

"Our study shows that 9 out of 30 analyzed ride-hailing apps use collected data for "third-party advertising," Surfshark CEO Vytautas Kaziukonis said.

The least data-hungry ride-hailing app in Surfshark’s data sensitivity index is  the Indian service Rapido. It collects almost ten times less data than the leading GrabTaxi app and uses only its user's name, phone number, and location to deliver its services. Rapido is followed by TaxiEU, which additionally collects some analytics data to improve their services like crash, performance, usage, product interaction, and similar data.

For the record, it should be said that apps that collect comparatively less data have also been found to share information with third parties as well.

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Balakumar K
Balakumar K

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.