Uber sharing user data with public health departments for COVID-19 contact tracing

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Uber quietly rolled out a free service that gives public health officials access to data on drivers and riders who are believed to have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

"We built this system as part of our commitment to safety," Mike Sullivan, chief of global law enforcement at Uber, said in a July 20 statement emailed to Becker's Hospital Review. "The updated process is designed to provide public health authorities with critical information faster. As people start to move again, we want to do our part to help slow the spread."

The service is an update to Uber's portal system, which the rideshare company altered to help public health authorities and its law enforcement operations team during the pandemic. The service is available to government health officials in all the countries Uber operates and allows public health officials to access data within a few hours of submitting a request about people who used Uber's services, according to Reuters.

Using Uber's health portal, health departments can view data based on trip receipts or passenger names. Uber has been providing the user data for COVID-19 contact tracing for months, but the data tracking effort has not been applied to many virus hotspots in the U.S., according to the report.

Uber began providing data on health-related issues to U.S. law enforcement officials in 2019 after a resurgence of measles cases in the U.S. caused several health departments to request data.

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