Uber has been quietly helping governments with contact tracing for months
- For months Uber has been providing health officials with data to help them with their contact tracing efforts, Reuters reports.
- The ride-sharing company has designed a portal specifically for health officials to request user data.
- The new service received 560 requests from 29 countries in the first half of 2020.
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Uber has been quietly helping health officials around the world with contact tracing, the company told Reuters.
The ride-sharing company has built a special portal for health officials to request access to rider and driver data. Uber has provided user data to officials before, for example with police departments investigating a crime.
Officials can ask for data based on passenger names of ride receipts, the idea being that it could help them get in touch with someone who might need to quarantine.
Company officials told Reuters the service has been active for months, and the company is able to provide relevant data within a few hours of receiving a request. In the first half of 2020, the company received 560 coronavirus-related requests from 29 countries. Out of the 560 requests, 158 came from the US.
The service was already in the works before the pandemic hit the US, Uber told Reuters. In 2019 the company started receiving requests from US health officials following a measles outbreak.
Unspecified company executives held a meeting with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health officials in Los Angeles in January 2020 to discuss how Uber data could be used for health purposes. The coronavirus was discussed at that meeting.
"Our timing ended up being beneficial in that it allowed us to get ahead before Covid started ramping up globally," Uber's chief of global law enforcement, Mike Sullivan, told Reuters.
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