POSTSCRIPT / March 29, 2018 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Protect riders’ data in Uber-Grab deal

GOVERNMENT regulatory agencies should step in quickly to protect riders of Uber Systems Inc. as it merges operations with Grab Holdings Inc. under an acquisition deal sealed on Sunday.

Regulatory agencies such as the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board should stop the automatic transfer to Grab of all personal information of Uber riders without a fresh and clear authorization from each of them.

We should learn from recent revelations that personal data of some 50 million Facebook users had been improperly accessed by such research firms as Cambridge Analytica that in turn mined the information for commercial, political and other purposes.

To protect riders, regulatory agencies should order both Uber and Grab to delete or render unusable the accounts information database of Uber – whether or not such sensitive materials have been transferred or shared already.

Uber’s treatment of its faithful riders is abominable. Its transferring of their personal information, including payment details, without fresh consent resembles the commercial trafficking of chattel.

Grab can keep its own riders’ database, no problem, but it should not grab Uber riders’ data without their reiterating consent originally given to Uber — whose contract with its clientele is deemed expired after Uber abandoned them and unilaterally withdrew its services.

In the same spirit that Uber drivers have been given a transition period for moving to Grab, Uber riders should be afforded time to think about signing up with Grab under new terms. They should not be automatically assigned, or presumed to want to move, to Grab.

Since it will be tedious sorting out those who want to move to Grab, it’s better to delete all Uber accounts and give riders the option to sign up anew — which they can do electronically in just 10 minutes. Riders hesitant to give their bank or credit card details can choose to pay in cash.

The government should order Uber to destroy its riders’ information database, and demand proof of compliance. A third party representing the riding public can help oversee compliance.

If reason is needed for quick action, just look at the horrible experience of Facebook victims who have ended up holding an empty bag of an apology.

The government should not fall into a regulatory lapse in ensuring that the Uber-Grab deal is not inimical to public interest. The process should not leave out the central third party – the riding public.

• How Uber regards its faithful riders

UBER’S email to its clientele the other day hinted at how it regards its riders and its “Agreement” with them. Excerpts:

“We hereby give you notice that pursuant to a Bill of Sale, dated as of March 25, 2018, with Grab Holdings Inc., we have assigned to GHI our legal relationship under the Agreement as of March 25, 2018.

“All future correspondence, dealings, notices and payments in respect of the Agreement should be sent to GHI… Additionally, in connection with the assignment of the Agreement, GHI will provide services and shall have control over and be responsible for your data.

Effective March 25, 2018, updates will go into effect and starting from that time, the following GHI terms and policies will govern your use and access to the platform (collectively, the “Terms”):;

“If you agree to be bound by the Terms and would like to use the transportation services provided by GHI you will need to consent to the transfer of all your account information—including your name, phone number, trip or delivery history and payment details—to GHI. You may signify your consent by accessing the platform and clicking ‘I agree’. Your information may be shared with GHI.

“You have the right to access, update or correct your personal information, or withdraw your consent to use any of your personal information by contacting

• Gospel recalls Washing of the Feet

THE GOSPEL for today, Holy Thursday, is from John 13:1-15:

“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

“The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.

“So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.

“He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Master, are you going to wash my feet?’

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.’

“Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’

“Jesus answered him, ‘Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.’

“Simon Peter said to him, ‘Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.’

“Jesus said to him, ‘Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.’

“For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

“So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, ‘Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.’”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 29, 2018)

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