Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Uber executive investigated for snooping on reporter

The AP is reporting that Uber Technologies is investigating whether one of its general managers violated the popular car-booking service's privacy policies by snooping on a reporter's ride.

The probe stems from allegations that Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber's New York office, used a company tracking tool called "God View" to monitor the location of a BuzzFeed reporter earlier this month. Internet news service BuzzFeed first reported the investigation.

In a statement, Uber said access to the personal data of anyone using its car service is limited to "legitimate business purposes." The San Francisco company said employees violating the rules may be disciplined or fired.

News of the investigation followed a separate BuzzFeed story, which reported that another Uber executive recently threatened to look into the personal lives of journalists that have criticized Uber. Emil Michael, Uber senior vice president for business, made his remarks in New York during a dinner that was also attended by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and a list of prominent guests including actor Ed Norton, New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman and Huffington Post CEO Arianna Huffington, according to a USA Today column published Wednesday.

The USA Today column was written by Michael Wolff, a prominent journalist, who said he invited BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith to the Uber dinner without informing his guest that all conversations were supposed to be off the record. Wolff said most other guests at the dinner didn't hear the conversation between Michael and Smith.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Longtime Merc reporter Betty Barnacle Dillane dead at 83

Betty Barnacle Dillane, a dogged police reporter for the Mercury News for decades, died Nov. 13 of complications from Alzheimer's disease. She was 83.

She was one of the first women hired by the then-San Jose News in the 1950s. The Merc obit said she developed such a trustworthy relationship with police that she was permitted to flip through their files to find reports she thought were newsworthy.

"No one worked the phones like Betty," said former Mercury News copy editor Michele Jurich, noting Dillane's skill in getting people to open up to her.

Dillane's obit notes that she was gracious, kind and welcoming to women in the newsroom. Her thoughtfulness showed up in her obituaries, which she wrote during her last years with the Mercury News, and she often received thank-you notes from grateful families.