New testimony in the latest Uber court case indicates some Uber employees not only enjoyed the power to locate where Beyoncé is at any given time but also occasionally acted on the impulse. Less exciting, but equally disturbing, are the revelations that some employees used their access to track people like their ex-boy or girlfriends in real time, with little to no oversight.
Samuel Ward Spangenberg worked for Uber as a forensic investigator and made the general allegations about employee misuse of the “God’s Eye” tool as part of a lawsuit he filed against the company in October. Spangenberg, who is 45, has alleged age discrimination and whistleblower protection claims against the company.
His allegations became public in October, but the detail about Beyoncé seems to have broken this week via a report in The Guardian.
In an article published Tuesday, The Reveal cites “five former Uber security professionals” who say the company promised to make changes but never followed through. “Thousands” of employees can reportedly access a user’s information at any given time, with a fair chance of avoiding detection, they say.
An internal audit team searched for abnormalities in all the database activity to nab employees tracking customer data illicitly, said Spangenberg, who assisted the investigations. Those they caught were referred to HR to be fired, he said.
“If you knew what you were doing, you could get away with it forever,” Spangenberg said. “The access is always there, so it was a matter of whether you got caught in the noise.”
Many employees, Uber said, need access for reasons such as providing customer refunds and investigating traffic accidents. The company added that it blocks some teams of employees from getting the data without approval, though it did not specify which teams or how the approval process works.
“When I was at the company, you could stalk an ex or look up anyone’s ride with the flimsiest of justifications,” Michael Sierchio, who worked as a senior security officer until June of this year, told the website. “It didn’t require anyone’s approval.”
They did make one major change, though according to reports. “God View” is now called “Heaven View.” It’s true—Beyoncé is an angel.