Amid a new fuss over how its employees access sensitive user data, Uber’s top security executive sent a company-wide email to staff on Monday reminding them of their obligations when it comes to privacy.
“Like every fast-growing company, we haven’t always gotten everything perfect. But without the trust of our customers we have no business,” says the email, obtained by Fortune.
You can read the full email, by chief security officer John Flynn, further below. The memo refers to an article, published Monday by the Center for Investigative Reporting, that describes alleged privacy violations against users such as Uber employees tracking the trips of celebrities like Beyoncé, or using trip history to stalk former partners.
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The allegations come after a 2014 scandal in which BuzzFeed revealed that Uber employees used a tool they called “God View” to spy on customers’ activities. The scandal led to scrutiny from regulators and Uber eventually paying a $20,000 fine to settle a lawsuit. Uber has also since tightened up its privacy policies.
In the email, Flynn says “much of the information [in the new story] is out of date and doesn’t accurately reflect the state of our practices today.” He then reminds staff that they have instructed repeatedly about Uber’s rules about unauthorized access to user data, and explains the company has hired hundreds of staff dedicated to security and privacy.
The email also disputes a claim in Monday’s article that suggests all Uber employees have access to customer data, or that oversight is based on some sort of honor system.
Uber did, however, acknowledge in the Monday report that some of its employees broke the internal policies, resulting in about 10 of them being fired. Fortune has learned from one employee that a handful of Uber workers were fired earlier this year for accessing the trip data of celebrities.
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However, the employee also said that only certain teams have access to various levels of customer data, and when these employees do access it, they’re logged, making it difficult to hide their activities.
The details in Monday article are based in large part on a lawsuit filed by a former Uber employee, Ward Spangenberg, who says he was fired early this year for age discrimination. In his lawsuit, Spangenberg says Uber told him he was fired for breaching policies including rebuilding his laptop from scratch (he says it was common procedure when a computer crashes), and for accessing emails related to his performance review (he claims he was testing out an email program). Spangenberg also claims that Uber deleted files it was legally obligated to hold and asked him to cut Internet access to Uber offices during raids “so that law enforcement could not access Uber’s information.”
Here is the memo: