Uber agrees to 20 years of privacy audits

Uber: A history of controversies
Uber: A history of controversies

Uber is being punished (again) by the U.S. government for deceptive behavior.

Uber has agreed to have its privacy program audited by an outside party every other year for the next 20 years as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday.

The FTC alleged Uber failed to make good on its promises to monitor employee access to the personal information of customers and drivers.

The origin of the complaint dates back to 2014, when an Uber employee was widely reported to access its "God view" mode to track a reporter's movements. After facing an outcry, Uber said it had a "strict policy prohibiting" employees from accessing this data.

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Uber introduced an automated system to track employee access to sensitive information, but it allegedly stopped using that system less than a year later, according to the FTC complaint.

"This case shows that, even if you're a fast growing company, you can't leave consumers behind: you must honor your privacy and security promises," Maureen K. Ohlhausen, the FTC's acting chairman, said in a statement.

Under the terms of the settlement, Uber is also barred from misrepresenting how it protects consumers' personal information, and is required to put in place a "comprehensive privacy program."

"We are pleased to bring the FTC's investigation to a close," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement provided to CNN Tech. "The complaint involved practices that date as far back as 2014. We've significantly strengthened our privacy and data security practices since then and will continue to invest heavily in these programs."

Related: Uber has a leadership void at a time of crisis

Uber previously agreed to pay $20 million to settle an FTC lawsuit over misleading drivers about how much they could earn driving for the company.

The high-flying startup has been upended this year by revelations about reckless behavior.

It has faced a string of executive departures and damning headlines after being hit with sexual harassment allegations. The startup is currently operating without a CEO, COO, CFO, CMO or president.

Uber is also reportedly the subject of a criminal probe by the Department of Justice over a tool it built to help drivers dodge law enforcement in certain cities where it isn't allowed to operate.

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