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We should not accept the promotional term "sharing economy" for companies like Uber. That is spin. A more accurate term is "piecework subcontractor economy".
Uber has the technical possibility to do this because its app is nonfree: it is controlled by Uber, not by the user. In addition, snooping depends on a nonfree operating system. With a free system, the user could tell the system to lie to the Uber app.
I'm not talking about the software that Uber runs in its servers; if that is nonfree, it tramples Uber's freedom, which is a grievance for Uber but not one for us. The injustice here is that Uber requires its users to use software and digital services that attack their freedom in various ways.
This problem comes directly out of the practices listed above that mistreat all users of Uber.
Uber is an unregulated near-monopoly, so it can cut rates for drivers arbitrarily.
Drivers are starting to complain that they're left with little money for their work.
Uber can arbitrarily cut drivers' pay, and they need to work 15 hours a day. Some are trying to unionize, but it won't be easy.
It would be easy for a non-plutocratic government to prohibit this, and that's what every country ought to do, unless/until every person gets an adequate basic income so people don't need to be employed.
If you take an ordinary taxi and pay cash, it will generate no records associated with you — except in New York City where the government might apply face recognition to identify your photo in real time.
The company could not prevent Chinese repression, but upholding it in this way is complicity.
By the way, I don't see anything wrong in offering taxi rides driven by attractive models of either sex. However, this need not and should not be accompanied by Uber-style contempt towards women (and men).
With real taxis, you can flag one on the street or phone in any fashion; you can pay cash; you can be anonymous.
Beware of thinking of Uber as one more option in addition to real taxis. At the moment, that's true, but if Uber is a big success, real taxis could disappear.
Then what will you do, if you don't want to tell Big Brother where you are going?
To recover our privacy and make democracy safe, we need to redesign digital systems so that they do not collect information about people in general. First step, don't help any new ones gain a foothold.
Because I reject technology that mistreats me, I will never order or pay for an Uber car. I hope there will always be taxis I can use. But what about you?
Copyright (c) 2014 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.