Uber taps former IBM privacy chief amid 'God View' controversy

To help curb the lack of enthusiasm surrounding its questionable business practices, startup Uber is looking toward experienced veterans from tech stalwarts for help.

The controversy surrounding Uber's privacy practices is picking up faster than the drivers of the global ride-sharing service.

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To help curb that lack of enthusiasm, the San Francisco-based startup has tapped a Silicon Industry industry veteran from one of tech's oldest stalwarts.

Uber has tapped former IBM chief privacy officer Harriet Pearson to work with the company's privacy team.

As a partner for Washington D.C.-based legal firm Hogan Lovells, where she specializes in cybersecurity and privacy, Pearson and her staff will launch a review of Uber's existing data privacy program in order to reassess problem areas and provide recommendations for change.

"Our business depends on the trust of the millions of riders and drivers who use Uber," wrote Uber spokesperson Natalia Montalvo in a memo on Thursday. "The trip history of our riders is important information and we understand that we must treat it carefully and with respect, protecting it from unauthorized access.

Despite being a multi-billion startup wunderkind, Uber has developed a rebellious -- if not antagonistic -- reputation for itself, which has only deteriorated in the last week.

Montalvo's comments refer to a mediastorm that erupted earlier this week following a BuzzFeed report revealing Uber's senior vice president of business Emil Michael said during a dinner in New York last week that the on-demand car company should hire a team of researchers to "dig up dirt on its critics in the media."

Things got progressively worse when a subsequent BuzzFeed story accused Josh Mohrer, Uber's New York general manager, of tracking one of its reporters through an internal data-mining feature referred to within the company as "God View," allowing Uber employees at various levels to fully examine Uber customer activity and logs.

Since then, everyone from tech journalists to politicians to Uber investors and customers have been lambasting Uber for its data privacy practices -- or lack thereof, depending on the point of view.