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Uber data breach 'raises huge concerns' for UK watchdog

Covering up a massive data breach could lead to higher fines, says the UK Information Commissioner's Office.

Uber failed to tell the UK's data regulator whether UK citizens were affected by last year's data breach. 
Ian Knighton

The UK's data protection watchdog is set to flag down Uber over an enormous data breach hidden for more than a year.

"Uber's announcement about a concealed data breach last October raises huge concerns around its data protection policies and ethics", said the Information Commissioner's Office. "If UK citizens were affected then we should have been notified". Concealing a breach can result in higher fines for companies that lose data, the statement added.

As well as failing to protect customer data, Uber acknowledged that it paid off hackers to cover up the breach. The ride-hailing company said Tuesday it paid $100,000 (around £75,000) for the unidentified hackers to delete names, email addresses and driver's licence numbers of up to 57 million customers and drivers worldwide.

It's the latest controversy for Uber, which has also faced scrutiny over a corporate culture of harassment, its record on sexual assaults and its attitude toward employment rights. The service is currently embroiled in a legal dispute in London, where the transit authority opted not to renew the company's licence earlier this fall.

Uber didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.