A Ridesharing App With One Simple Mission: Protecting Your Privacy

So, the opposite of Uber, basically

July 5, 2017 9:00 am

When it comes to ride-hailing apps, we’ve essentially accepted that we have zero privacy. At this point, I assume Uber knows my shoe size and my blood type.

But science ain’t having that.

A team of brainiacs from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have developed a new ridesharing service (the prototype is outlined in much detail here) that serves to encrypt travelers’ information and hide it from developers.

What has to be a big middle finger to Uber — and a direct response to its “God View,” which tracked and stored passenger’s ride info, or its “Hell” program that spied on drivers also working for Lyft — the new tech protects  customers’ privacy by minimizing the data it collects to nothing beyond getting from point A to B. 

Called ORide for “Oblivious Ride,” the tech can still be used with a credit card transaction like any other app on the market. The point is not to provide complete anonymity. Rather, the protocol was created to make it very hard to track the passengers’ and the drivers’ movements. And its encryption only adds a few milliseconds to the search time.

And just when you thought these scientists couldn’t get any cooler, they didn’t patent ORide — on purpose. Should companies like Uber decide they want to turn things around and keep their nose clean, the tech is free to adopt.

On why to adopt, team member Jean-Pierre Hubaux says “confidentiality could be a selling point or a way to avoid a legal battle if a firm has to share the data it has access to with the secret services.”

We think it would just be the right thing to do.

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