The Uber app has the ability to monitor and record what people are doing on their iPhones, according to security researchers.
In worrying news, the company can reportedly monitor a user's screen even when the app is running in the background, allowing access to whatever you are looking at including private photos and passwords.
However, this tool was only used by Uber to aid functionality between Uber's app and the Apple Watch, and is in the process of being removed by the taxi company, Uber told Digital Spy.
"This API was only used for a short period of time with an old version of our Apple Watch app," a spokesperson said. "It enabled the app to run memory-intensive rendering of Uber maps on the iPhone & then send the image to the Watch app.
"It was never used for any other purpose and has been nonfunctional in our code for quite some time. The memory limitation of Apple Watch was fixed by subsequent updates in the OS and we're working with Apple to remove the API from our app completely."
Digital Spy has also reached out to Apple for comment.
The 'entitlement' access apparently involves a code that allows developers to set up push notifications and interact with the Apple software, among other things.
I wonder why Uber (appears to?) have this entitlement. new option in dev portal somewhere? https://t.co/VbknpQTlxV- Will Strafach (@chronic) October 3, 2017
However, the access is "unprecedented", said security researcher Will Strafach, as this entitlement function is apparently not commonly granted by Apple. He also said that Uber would have had to get permission from the tech giant to actually implement it.
"It looks like no other third-party developer has been able to get Apple to grant them a private sensitive entitlement of this nature," he told Gizmodo. "Considering Uber's past privacy issues I am very curious how they convinced Apple to allow this."
"Essentially it gives you full control over the framebuffer, which contains the colors of each pixel of your screen. So they can potentially draw or record the screen," Luca Todesco, a researcher and iPhone jailbreaker, added. "It can potentially steal passwords etc."
Uber was recently stripped of its operating licence in London by TfL, who ruled the company were "not fit and proper" to operate in the city. However, the company is in talks with TfL and continues to operate in the city.
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