Russian-owned ride-sharing service provider Yandex.Taxi says that it keeps to data protection rules and is ready for any checks by Lithuanian authorities.
Yandex taxi / Yandex photo
© Bendrovės archyvas

The comment came after the Lithuanian National Cyber Security Center warned on Monday against using the Yandex.Taxi application, saying that it could be unlawfully collecting user data.

The company said that Dutch-registered Yandex.Taxi BV, which administers the app, complies with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

"Yandex.Taxi BV processes and stores data of EU users strictly according to EU regulations, in particular GDPR," Aram Sargsyan, director for global strategy at Yandex.Taxi, said in a comment forwarded to BNS by a spokeswoman.

"We're open and ready to any necessary checks. Any accusals against us don't have any grounds," he added.

The Lithuanian Defense Ministry said in a press release earlier in the day that the app's need for information from a user's mobile device "potentially creates conditions for unlawful collection and storage of personal data, causing concern regarding their security".

The National Cyber Security Center under the Defense Ministry emphasized that the Yandex.Taxi app requests access to a large amount of sensitive information and permission to use such functions of a user's device as activating its camera or microphone or managing its wireless network access.

The center, therefore, does not recommend using the ride-sharing app until a thorough analysis is carried out.

Sargsyan said that the app collects data to make using the service as easy as possible.

"For example, instead of typing your card number by hand, you can just scan it. Or, for some languages, you can input your destination point by voice," he said.

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius and MP Audronius Ažubalis last week asked the State Security Department for information on whether Yandex.Taxi's activities in Lithuania do not pose a threat to Lithuania's national security.

Vilnius' local authority has also turned to the Lithuanian Competition Council, saying that Yandex.Taxi could be misleading customers by saying that it provides taxi services.

Sargsyan said that the company provides "an information society service".

"Despite its brand name, it is not a transportation company, and it doesn't provide transportation or taxi services in Lithuania or other countries. As an information society service, Yandex.Taxi doesn't need any special licenses.

The Yandex.Taxi app was launched in Vilnius last Thursday. The company's representatives say it has 300 cars in the Lithuanian capital. Its app works on a similar principle as Uber or Taxify.

Yandex.Taxi says that it is an international company registered in Amsterdam, although its IT specialists are based in Moscow.

BNS
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