Lyft responds to allegations that employees viewed riders' private data

Posted at 3:01 PM, Jan 26, 2018

Lyft said it is investigating new accusations that employees improperly accessed the private date of its riders.

The announcement came after the tech news site The Informationpublished a story on Thursday that raised questions about how the ridehail company's employees might be using sensitive information about customers.

The article centered on a post made on an app called Blind, an anonymous message board that provides an outlet for current and former employees at companies to gossip about their employers.

The anonymous poster claimed to have seen Lyft employees look up "exes," as well as data on Hollywood actresses, porn stars and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, The Information reported.

Hours after the report, Lyft cofounders Logan Green and John Zimmer e-mailed employees about the matter.

"Our company's values are based on creating a healthy environment of trust and accountability. If we find a violation, we will take appropriate action," read the e-mail obtained by CNN Tech, which contained the subject line "Upholding trust."

The news immediately drew comparisons to Uber's "God view" mode, which an Uber employee reportedly used to track a journalist's real-time whereabouts. Uber said it introduced "strict policy prohibiting" employees from accessing sensitive information but the FTC issued a complaint calling the company's enforcement of the policy into question. Uber settled the complaint with the FTC, agreeing to 20 years of privacy audits as part of the agreement.

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In a statement, Lyft said some employees, such as engineers, have access to customer data. A source familiar with Lyft's policies told CNN Tech that data includes details like pickup and drop-off locations.

Its employees are required to take trainings and sign a confidentiality and responsible use agreement upon joining the company, Lyft said.

Its policies "categorically prohibit accessing and using customer data for reasons other than those required by their specific role at the company," a Lyft spokeswoman said in the statement. The agreements also "bar them from accessing, using, or disclosing customer data outside the confines of their job responsibilities."

"The specific allegations in this post would be a violation of Lyft's policies and a cause for termination," the statement said. "We are conducting an investigation into the matter."

The issue had not been previously raised with its Legal or Executive teams, the company said.

Every query made in Lyft's system to look up rider data is logged, the company said. This means that, if the allegations are true, it shouldn't be difficult to track which employees were logging into Mark Zuckerberg's customer data.

The company did not provide a timeline for the investigation.

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