National Taxi Council believes that DiDi taxi aggregator may be a threat to Russia's security

National Taxi Council believes that DiDi taxi aggregator may be a threat to Russia's security

The National Taxi Council Association, which unites more than 50 non-profit cab organizations in the regions, has submitted a complaint to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the so-called "Chinese Uber," the DiDi aggregator. The association believes that since the app, which may be installed at the phones of state officials and law enforcement officers, collects personal data, it could weaken Russia's security.The letter is at the disposal of Forbes, its authenticity was confirmed by the sender. 

DiDi collects information about the movement of app users in real time and processes this data abroad, says the letter, which was signed by the executive director of the association Natalia Lozinskaya. The Chinese aggregator collects a large amount of map and personal data, which together with geopositioning and "unique identifying information about the mobile device" are of interest to foreign intelligence services, the document said. 
Government officials, law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as civilians working at restricted access facilities may order cabs through the DiDi app, the letter says. There is a high risk of unauthorized transfer of collected data abroad, which may lead to weakening of defense capability and security of Russia, warns Ms Lozinskaya.

The rules of Didi Mobility RUS personal data processing  state that the company will store collected information on servers in Russia, and if it needs to be transferred abroad, additional consent must be obtained from users. However, according to the author of the letter, this provision is "formal and is not controlled by anyone". Natalia Lozinskaya points out that the aggregator has the right to transmit collected data within the group of companies, so this information could be received not only by commercial partners, but also by DiDi investors. They are Sequoia Capital, Tencent, SoftBank, General Atlantic Foundation and Toyota Motor Company.

DiDi protested that there is no basis for such a complaint. "Privacy, as well as the protection of personal data and information related to business processes, is a top priority for DiDi," Irina Gushchina, PR director of DiDi in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, told Forbes. She has added that the personal data of users in Russia is processed and stored in accordance with the law and the existing rules of confidentiality, and used only with the consent of users.

Taxi market is highly competitive now, and this leads to a significant reduction in the price of travel and as a consequence, does not allow to make the carriage itself more civilized in the economic segment, said Denis Kuskov, director general  of the Telecom Daily analytical agency. The arrival of each new player is unprofitable: the same people work in aggregators in each city (more than 50% of drivers use more than one app), and new players in the market can lure them to their orders, offering a better price, says Kuskov. "It is unclear why citizens should refuse cheap and high-quality services, given that the quality of transportation in Russian aggregators is sometimes much worse," the expert argued.

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