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Why Uber Still Hasn’t Arrived in Rochester — or the Rest of Western New York

Germany full-size luxury SUVUber, a smartphone app that allows users to get a crowd-sourced taxi ride at the touch of a button, is not only a huge convenience for many people living in the city today, but is changing inner-city transit in a big way. And it’s far from confined to the biggest cities like New York and Toronto — Uber currently operates in 56 countries and hundreds of U.S. cities of all sizes.

So why hasn’t Uber’s service expanded into Rochester or Buffalo yet?

The answer might be more complex than many think. According to the Albany Business Review, current state licensing regulations and insurance rules make it difficult for this ride-sharing service to expand upstate. However, a current bill moving through the New York State Senate and Assembly could allow companies like Uber and its competitor, Lyft, to come to Western New York.

“Uber has the potential to bring untapped economic opportunity and job growth to all of Upstate New York,” Alix Anfang, an Uber spokeswoman, said in support of the legislation.

Another important thing for Uber to consider before it expands into Rochester and Buffalo? Its cyber security. Uber, an app that uses Open SSL encryption, has raised eyebrows for its data collection practices in recent months.

According to IT Pro Portal, Uber collects not only one’s location, name and credit card information. The app also monitors its users’ email records, app activity, device information, MMS and SMS data, call history, WiFi connection, malware status, battery health and status, data network and SIM card ID.

When the notorious Heartbleed bug targets Open SSL encryption, and 57% of businesses still experience cyber breaches, there are still many who doubt Uber’s ability to protect the sheer volume of personal information it collects from its users.

It’s unclear if and when state legislation that would allow Uber to operate in Rochester will be passed. And even if a new ride-sharing law does pass, Rochester’s local laws could potentially serve as another roadblock — when Lyft operated here for a brief time last year, it faced resistance from the City of Rochester for failing to comply with local licensing regulations.

For now, Rochester residents will simply have to rely on a traditional taxi service to get around the city.