Sci-tech

Washington state sues Uber for millions over data breach cover up

Washington state sues Uber for millions over data breach cover up

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Uber, after the ride-hailing company waited more than a year to reveal that it had been hacked, resulting in the breach of personal data for customers and drivers.

In Britain, Uber drew around 2.85 million users, on average, over the past three months, according to web and mobile app traffic measurement firm SimilarWeb, indicating that most British Uber users were likely caught up in the breach. At the time, the company paid the hackers $100,000 and disguised the breach as a "bug bounty" to keep it quiet.

"The Board will be calling Uber's attention on the matter of its alleged admission on the breach of data privacy and will conduct its own investigation", LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada said in a text message to reporters on Wednesday.

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Uber should notify United Kingdom users who have been affected, the data regulator said. "Consumers expect and deserve protection from disclosure of their personal information". When a data breach puts people at risk, businesses must inform them, " Ferguson said in a news release.

The attorney general is seeking a penalty of $2,000 for each of the almost 11,000 Washington residents affected by the breach.

Central to the lawsuit are claims that Uber failed to protect its data and, once the breach occurred, actively went out of its way to hide this.

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Several states, including Missouri, Massachusetts and NY, have opened investigations, and the city of Chicago sued Uber on Tuesday for failing to notify affected residents. Violations carry fines of up to US$2,000, and Ferguson said each day Uber failed to notify each customer constitutes a violation.

The firm has said it has a total of five million active users and 50,000 drivers in the UK.

Ferguson announced the state's lawsuit hours after developments in a California court case revealed that federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Uber deployed an espionage team to plunder trade secrets from its rivals. Under such a theory, he argues that Uber should face a penalty of several millions of dollars.

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