Lithuania warns Russian taxi app could be snooping on users
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuanian authorities on Tuesday “strongly” urged consumers, especially public servants, not to install the app of a popular Russian taxi-booking service because it may unlawfully be collecting user data.
Rytis Rainys, head of Lithuania’s National Cyber security center, said they were running “various tests” of the Yandex Taxi application.
In the meantime, “we strongly recommend against installing and using it, especially those working in state offices” Rainys told The Associated Press.
The taxi app’s corporate base is in Amsterdam, Netherlands, but it is part of Russia’s top search-engine company, Yandex. It entered the Lithuanian market Thursday.
The app requires access to microphone, camera and local network, among others.
Aram Sargsyan, Yandex’s global strategy director, told the Baltic News Service agency that the company “processes and stores data of (European Union) users strictly according to EU regulations” — but said it was willing to submit itself to a check.
“We’re open and ready to any necessary checks. Any accusations against us don’t have any grounds,” Sargsyan was quoted as saying by the Baltic News Service.
Yandex is one of Russia’s most successful Internet companies, accounting for some 65 percent of all searches and operating popular maps and public transit apps.
Earlier this month, the ride-sharing company Uber said it was merging with Yandex in Russia and five other ex-Soviet republics as it cedes control of the Russian market. Yandex will own about 59 percent and Uber roughly 37 percent of the combined company.
The Yandex taxi app company says it has 300 cars in the Lithuanian capital and its app works on a principle similar to other ride-sharing companies.