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British penalty in data case raises fresh questions about Uber’s integrity

The last thing Uber wants ahead of its much-awaited IPO is new controversies, especially at a time when the ride-hailing giant is in the process of salvaging its image after a series of scandals and negative publicity. Any distraction at this stage might ultimately benefit competitors, especially Lyft which is in a race with Uber for the Wall Street debut.

While making aggressive efforts to expand its overseas operations, Uber suffered a setback this week when regulators in the Netherlands and UK slapped a fine of around $1.2 million on it in connection with the controversial data breach case of 2016. The action comes after an investigation revealed that personal information of several Uber customers in Europe was compromised then, much before Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG) were investigated by the EU authorities for multiple cases of data misuse.

Earlier, the San Francisco, California-based company had agreed to pay $148 million in the US in connection with the security lapse. It is alleged that sensitive data about 57 million Uber passengers and partners across the world were exposed after the company failed to prevent hackers from intruding into its network.

The action comes after a probe revealed that personal information of millions of Uber customers in Europe was compromised in 2016

The findings of the investigation indicate it is yet another case of the Uber management handling a serious issue with complete disregard for those affected, for the company is also charged with covering up the incident for more than a year. Maybe CEO Dara Khosrowshahi can work on instilling a little more sensitivity among his team, once his current task of fixing the company’s toxic workplace culture is over.

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The management, which has also been facing allegations of gender-discrimination and pay-disparity for quite some time, neither informed the persons affected by the data breach nor extended any support to them. The regulators felt it is unbecoming of a large organization like Uber to behave in such a manner, aggravating the risk of information falling into the wrong hands.

Claiming to have “learned from the mistakes,” Uber expects the penalty imposed by the European regulators would mark the closure of the case. The company believes the recent efforts to enhance the security of its systems would prevent such glitches from happening in future.

 

Listen to publicly listed companies’ earnings conference calls along with the edited closed caption text

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