Uber has begun to alert some users who it feels might have been exposed to coronavirus. While that may initially seem somewhat interesting, it may also be a further glimpse into what can be done with certain kinds of data.
Gizmodo has a report about Uber in Mexico, with the company warning users who may have come into contact with someone who is suspected to be carrying coronavirus. It even went so far as to temporarily deactivate some Uber accounts as a precaution.
In Mexico, Uber felt compelled to act when it learned that its drivers had possibly come into contact with a person suspected to have coronavirus. Consequently, it temporarily deactivated the accounts of 240 users who had also traveled with the drivers in Mexico City.
The company said that it had received information about a rider suspected of being infected with coronavirus from Mexico City’s Health Department. Uber proceeded to provide the department with the contact information of two drivers that had possibly been in contact with that user.
Nonetheless, Uber did not stop there. It explains in the statement that it temporarily deactivated the accounts of 240 users that had also traveled with the two drivers and informed them that they could contact Mexico’s Epidemiological Intelligence and Health Unit (UIES) for more information or to report symptoms.
— Uber Mexico (@Uber_MEX) February 1, 2020
Whether you see this as terrifying or impressive use of data will depend on your stance on data privacy. However, it’s clear here that the news could be potentially life-saving for someone who wasn’t aware of their potential contact with the virus. If they are then able to seek help and receive treatment sooner, that has to be a good thing in this instance.
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