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Uber Hires New Legal Counsel From Apple to Help With Its Privacy Issues

She’s joining the team led by Katherine Tassi, former head of data protection at Facebook.

Shuuterstock / Alexander Supertramp

Uber has just poached Sabrina Ross, Apple counsel specializing in privacy law. She’s joining Katherine Tassi, the former head of data protection at Facebook, who joined Uber as its managing counsel for privacy last August.

Tassi confirmed to Re/code that Ross is the fourth attorney hired for the legal privacy team, and she plans to hire more. The group works with Uber’s new chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, as well as data security engineers and members of the product team.

Before Apple, Ross focused on privacy and data security compliance as an associate at the law firm Sidley Austin and then Ropes and Gray. She’s certified through the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

At Uber, she’ll specifically work on privacy aspects of regulatory and policy issues. She’ll also be reviewing the privacy practices of Uber’s partnerships with companies like Spotify, Starwood and American Express.

Uber has been expanding its focus on privacy after news broke that it didn’t have systems in place to keep its corporate employees from accessing passengers’ locations after they had requested a ride. The story of Uber employees showing “God View” at a party — a map showing notable New Yorkers’ real-time location — prompted criticism about Uber’s approach to customer privacy. According to Uber, the tool no longer exists.

In January, Uber commissioned a review of its systems from privacy specialist Harriet Pearson and her law firm, Hogan Lovells. The review said that “Uber has dedicated significantly more resources to privacy than we have observed of other companies of its age, sector, and size.” It still offered a few suggestions, telling Uber to conduct specialized employee training around privacy issues and to make its data collection policies easier for users to understand.

When asked what changes Uber made after the review, Tassi said, “I personally have gone around the world and given privacy and data protection training to employees.” She also said her team was reviewing privacy practices more comprehensively throughout the company and has continued to develop its technical system controlling employee access of rider data.

“My primary focus is to continue to build the team so that we grow at the same pace as the company grows,” Tassi said. “We can’t stay still.”

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