Uber's dynamic pricing revelations shows firm analysing battery levels

Uber has closely studied how dynamic pricing functions and when it's acceptable to users. One discovery is that round numbers signal haste and sloppiness where riders appear to believe that more precise numbers (for example, 2.1 instead of 2) have been carefully worked out by an algorithm. The company's head of head of economic research Keith Chen says that riders will pay up to 9.9 times the normal price if their phone's battery is almost dead, information the Uber app openly collects in order to determine when it needs to shift to power-saving mode. However, Chen says the company does not use battery information in setting prices.


What is Privacy International calling for?

People don’t know or control what data is on devices and how it is used by others, and how this can be used against them. In the future, individuals’ data held on technologies and devices can be exploited beyond the control of the individual, to anybody with the authority and capability.

The era where we were in control of the data on our own computers is nearly over. We were once able to access, process, and delete our data on our devices, with few exceptions. Now industry is building an era where devices and services are

  • generating data we cannot control,
  • storing data we cannot access,
  • using systems we cannot monitor, and
  • accessing and sharing data without our knowledge.

Often, there is more data being generated than is necessary for the provision of a service, the functionality of a device, or the clearly-stated business purpose. This excessive generation of data, often done beyond our control, leads to excessive processing, often done without our knowledge, and may exceed the reasonable expectation of users.

Data beyond our control, invisible to the individual

People must be able to know what data is being generated by devices, the networks and platforms we use, and the infrastructure within which devices become embedded.  People should be able to know and ultimately determine the manner of processing. 

Principle 1. People must know