A Story About Uber Reveals That People Don’t Understand “Free Software/Services”

Uber broke more rules. Tracked more people. Because they could. Uber responds to report that it tracked devices after its app was deleted | TechCrunch

They violated the rules of the Apple App Store, geofenced Cuppertino in the hopes that Apple wouldn’t find out, and only agreed to “fix” the problem when threatened with being yanked from Apples ecosystem.

That isn’t the part that interests me, because at this point I expect Uber is breaking ever rule they can get away with. That is who they are. The interesting part is that people don’t understand that “free” means that you are the product.

A footnote of this story is about the selling of “anonymized data.” Uber was buying data to track their competitor – Lyft.

Selling anonymized data is not uncommon for free services like Unroll.me and its owner Slice — Slice even pitches its powerful data set publicly. But many appear to feel shocked that they were not more clearly informed that if you are not paying with money you still have to pay somehow. Unroll.me CEO Jojo Hedaya said that it was “heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.”

He made no indications that it would alter this practice in the future.

As Robert Heinlein point out in one of his novels, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” If you are getting something for free – say a Twitter or Facebook account – then that company is collecting as much data about you as they can and using that data to make money. Or where do you think targeted advertising comes from? That anyone could be confused on this subject in the 21st Century is amazing to me.

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